No spoilers in this rapid review of Ruse by Cindy Pon. I liked it and give it 3.5 stars. It’s easy to tell this isn’t Pon’s first series because of how efficient a storyteller she is. Her prose is crisp and effective, and the entire plot of Ruse is action-packed. Seriously, there’s never a dull moment.
At the end of Want, the first book in this series, I wondered whether there was much story left to tell. It could’ve been a standalone with how well the protagonists accomplished their goal and how completely the story wrapped up. But I was ready to check back in with Jason Zhou and crew because I enjoyed my time with them so much the first time around.
But then Jason wasn’t in the first part of the book. Pon introduced us to a new character, a friend of Lingyi’s, to set up the plot of this sequel. This girl invented a piece of tech, an air-scrubber of sorts, which Mr. Jin desperately wants. (Yes, he’s the bad guy once again.) When Jin gets his hands on this tech, Lingyi reassembles the team to try to get it back.
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Because of this exciting opening sequence, I was intrigued from the start. Yet I was happy when we finally caught up with Jason and Daiyu. Jason hasn’t seen his old friends since Victor’s death, but when Lingyi summons him, he immediately accepts her invitation. Once they’re reunited, it’s like they’ve never been apart. Jason’s the only one who fully trusts Daiyu, though, so they ask him to work behind her back. At first he balks at the idea, but eventually he’s willing to do so.
Is Jason right about Daiyu’s loyalties, or is Lingyi? It’s a question I asked myself often as I read. I love the pair together, so I had my fingers crossed that Jason’s faith in his girlfriend was well-placed.
Ruse is a fairly short novel, so there’s absolutely no filler. Every page has a purpose and directs the reader toward the action. Even though the writing is pointed, Pon takes the time to tell us what each character is wearing and eating in a way that I could always see clearly. Clothes and food are two of my favorite things to read about, so I’m glad Pon indulges her readers in this way.
I definitely recommend this book and this series, especially if you’re a fan of science fiction. The sci-fi aspect revolves around solutions to a highly polluted environment and definitely gave me pause in both Want and Ruse. And something about Pon’s prose and storytelling jumps off of the page for me. I enjoyed the two books in this series so much that I definitely want to read more of her work.
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