If you do not know the backstory, read my review for The Hunt, the first book in the series.
For Gene and the remaining humans—or hepers—death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast... and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side.
When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found—and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other... if they can only stay alive.
Against all odds, Gene and Sissy successfully led the boys from the Dome to the Mission, a safe haven filled with normal people, or more commonly known as hepers. And they were finally able to have a good life, enjoying luxurious meals and treated as honour guests.
Gene and Sissy were told to embark on a train that leads to The Civilization, a place where more humans are waiting to welcome their arrival but Sissy, the female leader of the pack, was still on guard. Her sixth sense tells her something was not quite right, but the boys were oblivious. Or was it just her being overtly cautious?
This book had me guessing, guessing and guessing. I was kept in a constant shroud of mystery. I wanted to believe that they were finally safe and sound, with their own kind, but Sissy's insistence grated on my senses too. I felt scared, hopeful and worried for the characters before desperation sinks in as a possible outcome presents itself.
In this book, I both liked and hated Sissy. I really appreciate her intuitiveness, but I hated how she can be so unselfish towards those who wronged her and selfish towards those who loved her.
Gene's story was more of a slow discovery of his father and his backstory, while Ashley June's complements Gene's story and provided us a glimpse into her early life and how she came to be who she is now. Sissy's origins were not disclosed in such detail as Gene's and Ashley June's except that her parents, now deceased, were part of the Mission too.
My conclusion is, this is a book not to be missed! In fact, the whole series is brilliant! As a reader of 7 years I don't expect myself to not predict the main arches of the story, but Andrew Fukuda outsmarted me.