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This is the rare second book in a series that improved upon the first book. My favorite part of the first book was the setting in realms of afterlife (aka Circles of Hell) that was unique with a interesting demonic "bad guy" to fight, and the romance story seemed really cliched and trite. The second book thrusts our characters to a modern day high school setting and that worked for me much better. There is still the higher stakes and the demonic bad guys to fight. It becomes a riff on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. There is better banter and more humor. The secondary characters are more fleshed out than in the first book and helped me have a greater emotional response to this book. The action is fast and believable. Our heroine gets to be quite the badass fighter. The romance seemed more believable and progresses through interesting maturation through the book, and seems to be at an appropriate level of importance in this more usual setting.
Fine wrote a smooth, action-packed story with a lot of suspense and danger. This is a better meld of the high school genre with its inherent YA romance aspect than the previous book's dire fantastical setting did. The book is supplemented nicely with a unique paranormal plotline to add interest, tension, and lots of action.
Audiobook note: Malachi's accent is awful. But the rest of the narration was solid. Nice emphasis during action sequences.
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I'm a sap. I'm 54yo and cried like a baby. love this book. excellent story, and narrator.