My son grabbed this as soon as it came in and read it. I really wanted to read more of Simon's story in the sequel, but instead Rudden introduces a whole new character, Uriel Croit.
Now, the book is written in two different POVs -- Denizen's and Uriel's, just like the first was written from Denizen's and Simon's POVs. But while Simon is in this story, we don't get "his story."
You're supposed to read it as one seamless tale, and I did for the first book, I think because the boys shared a link -- they were friends and allies at a horrible orphanage. But Uriel and Denizen have no link, no connection at all (it's by design), until about 3/4 through the story, when their plot lines connect.
The back-and-forth switching of POVs in this book distracted me, so I exercised my reader's rights and read through all of Uriel's POV chapters first. Then I went back and read Denizen's, and then I took up where they came together and finished the read.
I won't spoil how it ends. Just know, the pivotal decision comes from Uriel, not Denizen. It's up to Uriel to realize Denizen is his ally, that actions speak louder than words, particularly when those words are delivering a warped message.
My son liked it, but he had a very negative reaction to a key character -- I won't say who -- and she greatly troubled him. In addition, the theme this book tackles, fanatical belief, was difficult for him to understand, even at 15. We spent a few hours talking about it, discussing it, how this one character could behave / think this way, despite all the evidence -- and Uriel's feelings -- to the contrary.
I won't spoil the big twist at the end. I'm still giving it five stars, because the writing is sublime. Just know, it may take some discussion with a parent for a tweener, or even young teen, to fully "get" this story. Enjoy the read!
(And I do hope we get Simon's story in the next book!)