Upheaval — a review

First — I apologize that this went to be published a week ago.  I didn’t even notice that the date was wrong and there was no content because I’ve been rather busy.  Second:  this is book 8 in a still-ongoing series.

I love the Rise of the Iliri series.  In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite series ever.  Upheaval is book 8 in Auryn Hadley’s science fantasy series, and she keeps on delivering.  I’ll admit, the covers turned me off this series for a long time.  Even after I read the first book in her series Gamer Girls, I was leery.  But I finally began reading this series and now I can’t get enough (though the covers still are off-putting…sorry Auryn).

Auryn has this insane ability to really make the characters real…and she doesn’t pull punches.  You don’t know if your favorite character will live to the end.  You don’t know if the character you hate will become the one you love.  Nothing is sacred…except the story.  The hardest thing, I think, when reading a long series is maintaining the momentum and depth that you get in the first few books.  Too often, authors seem to stop trying once they get through the first few books.  This is NOT the case with RotI.  Upheaval is just as compelling and complete as Bloodlust was.  I seriously stayed up all night to read it in one go.

The series is about a war, on the surface.  But it’s really about hate and prejudice.  It’s about love (of yourself and others).  It’s about power.  The evolution of power and status throughout the series is ever-changing.  Upheaval is that, but more.  There are more changes and some quite unexpected turns of events in this book.  At the same time, there are things that have been brewing since before the first book that are finally coming to fruition.  I once again found myself at the end and flipping pages to see if there was more.  If you don’t like cliffhangers, wait till the series is complete.  Hadley has zero issues with leaving her readers hanging.

Hadley’s world is fraught with man-made issues.  Slavery, racism, and war fill the pages, but over all that is the idea of hope.  The idea that the life we are born to is not the life we are stuck with.  Characters in the book often describe the scent of Sal as “hope.”  And as we get further and further into the story, this becomes more and more tangible.  Even when the army suffers defeat, even when Sal feels hopeless, Hadley gives the reader hope that it will all work out.  That the pattern has a purpose.  At the same time, you know she could write something that will truly destroy you. So while devouring the book, I was always braced for something terribly tragic to happen.  The Rise of the Iliri is a beautiful melding of science and fantasy.  Upheaval ups the ante, leaving the reader balancing on a ledge wondering if maybe, just maybe, there will not be a happy ending.

Click the links below to grab a copy of the whole series (or just the newest release).

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