Reviewed by May
In the first book we meet tough cop Joanna. A woman who grew up in the projects and is more familiar with pain and loneliness than anything else. She is in love with her best friend Justin who is engaged and very much not into her in that way. She’s started sleeping with her boss. She is struggling with drinking. And generally just fighting the dirty, gritty fight against superheroes, villains, and the destruction they bring to her town Galilee Falls. She hates super heroes, she wants them all unmasked and accountable. Then a series of events leads to her stepping down from her position with the police department, becoming an heiress worth billions, abusing alcohol, and hitting rock bottom with a slam.
As book 2 begins, she’s been sober (going through AA) nine months and is pulling things back together piece by piece. The one year anniversary of the event that changed her life forever is sneaking up too. So when she finds herself working with a trio of super heroes that are new to town in order to help get the city back in order it is a most unwelcome push back into that world – one she may not survive.
A huge part of me wnts to kick them the hell out of this house and seal the doors. I want nothing to do with any of this. Of them. I don’t want them anywhere near me. The last time I was dragged into the super world I was shot at, beaten, burned, kidnapped, bombed, spent a day in a coma…
That is as much as I can tell you without giving big spoilers for either book. This is a trilogy, and one that is incredibly well done. It is told entirely from Joanna’s perspective, and we don’t get into epic battles and endless chases. This is a normal, everyday kind of woman who struggles with her own flaws and just wants to see the people of her city live in peace. What I really appreciate is that you could in fact start here, with book two and end here as well. Normally the second book in a trilogy is the weak link. Full of cliffhangers, unfinished business, and leaving a “to be continued” feeling for the reader, to be blunt they tend to suck.
Galilee Rising was none of these things. In this trilogy both novels have a stand-alone feel to them which I appreciate so much. Each is a masterful work in its own right, and together they are intensely wonderful. The author deftly guides us through the carnage that is Joanna’s life. We see her struggling to fit in as a newly wealthy woman. See her smart thinking as she has hired professionals to make sure she’s dressed the part, to keep her on schedule, and to assist her as she runs an empire. I really appreciate that she knows her strengths and weaknesses, and isn’t charging off trying to prove anything.
“Who the hell am I? I’m nothing. A traumatized alcoholic who ruins everything and everyone she comes into contact with.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is. I hurt everyone I care about. Justin, Harry, Lucy. I make everything worse. I mean, why the hell would God let me live when such better people die?”
She struggles with darkness and she could be a really villainous person if she wanted. She’s got the resources and the motives. She’s never really had anything good aside from her friendship with Justin. Yet she fights against evil and protects everyone as best she can. She fights against her destructive urges. She takes the hard path. Quite simply, she’s a good woman who wants to help others.
She’s also recovering and very honest with herself about how fragile she is and how weak her grasp on her new healthier life is. Alcohol still calls to her, destruction and darkness are very much in the shadows of her mind.
“… the way in is the way out. The path may be long, you may believe you’re lost, but no matter what you are always on the correct course. There are no wrong choices because the path is already set for you.”
“Exactly like fate.”
One thing I want to mention is that while this is told from Joanna’s perspective, we aren’t privy to her every thought. There is a distance to the tale, we aren’t inside her head, we don’t know her every thought but rather she is our narrator. There are a few times that this annoyed me (like when I thought she should have figured out who the new heroes are but she makes no comment!) but overall I really liked this unique perspective. We are riding alongside Joanna in this adventure, and the style this gives the book I believe will appeal to those who don’t love first person narratives.
This is a very dark story. No character is safe from being killed or severely injured. The villains won’t just harm police or heroes – they will hurt old people or children – they don’t care. Heroes don’t just ride in and fix everything. This is real life, and sometimes there is significant collateral damage. The gritty feel of this series is really something special because it makes the hope shine that much brighter.
For those wondering about happily ever after and romance, I will say that this book ended on a beautiful and hopeful note. I definitely felt rewarded as a reader. This is not what I would consider a romance novel, but there is a budding relationship here that is a core part of the story.
“Panic attacks, moodiness, alcoholism, cheating, take your pick. Not quite the lioness he pitched, huh? How disappointed you must have been.”
“God no,” he says almost breathless. “I think you are… the omst infuriating, challenging, frightening… breathtaking, insightful, astonishing woman I have ever met.”
Let’s just say this new budding romantic interest of Joanna’s was absolutely irresistible. The author did a great job of letting Joanna (and myself as a reader) fall for this guy and see how he could have a unique spot in her life and her heart. I don’t want to say too much – but I’ll say that I ended this book with a big smile and was very pleased. The ending is masterfully done and I feel really good about recommending this series wholeheartedly.
I would recommend reading book one so you can see how far Joanna has come, to really get her struggles and back story, but you can also start here quite easily. I couldn’t remember all the details from book one and the author did a fantastic job of weaving information and bits from book one into this story so that I could refresh my memory – or so a new reader could keep up with.
If you want to follow the story of an amazingly strong, talented, smart, and quick thinking woman whose heart is huge despite never having had much to live for – this is one series you can’t miss. The super hero angle is icing on the cake for me – but truly even if you aren’t really into that genre this is still a must read. Nothing is easy, every inch is hard won, and the payoff is that much sweeter.
This is definitely one of the best books I read this year.
Read May’s review of book one, Justice.