TracingTheStars.com was given a copy of Released for an honest review
I had the pleasure of reviewing S.J Pajonas’ debut book, Removed, and it earned an outstanding five stars. Imagine my joy when I was asked to read and review book 2, Released. Released was another great work of New Adult Science Fiction by Pajonas. After being blown away by Removed, I admittedly went into Released with some pretty high expectations. Second books are a common struggle for writers, myself included, because of these expectations. While Released has many wonderful attributes and I greatly enjoyed continuing the story from book one, it fell short on some levels for me but still earned four solid stars.
Released is a true sequel. You must read book 1, Removed, before reading Released, or you will be completely confused from the very beginning. The beginning of Released was the best part for me. I absolutely loved following along with Sanaa as she slowly fell into depression, climbed out, fell back in and had a complete cabin-fever meltdown. I’m still not sure exactly why Mark thought it was best to trap her alone in the house for so long, especially if Mark was able to see how far she was going on the downward spiral, but it was riveting.
The love-story between Sanaa and Jiro is also continued with some added complications. Jiro continues to be a heartwarming, stand-up guy who wants to truly support Sanaa through all her adversities. This actually become a bit of a character flaw for Jiro later on, and I appreciated how Pajonas’ built that into the story.
Japanese culture continued to be a major factor in the story and writing. It is fully explored, including a traditional wedding ceremony (which is where the paper cranes on the cover come in) and ninjitsu culture. I thoroughly enjoyed this and, as with Removed, I thought it added a refreshingly unique flavor to this science fiction story.
The plot and other aspects of the storyline, including getting ready for the launch into space and trying to bring together all the clans, is where this book fell short of the five stars for me. The pacing was a little disjointed, with a great start then nothing really interesting happening in the middle, and then a bunch of exciting things happening at the very end. I wish more chapters had been given to the ending portion and less to the meanderings of Sanaa, her training and some of the clan politics.
Sanaa’s training (which I won’t specify because I don’t want to put in any spoilers) also bugged me a little bit, because it seemed she was too good, too quickly with everything she tried, surprising everyone around her, including me the reader. It caused me to disconnect slightly from Sanaa’s character and what she was going through, and it also made the big blow-out near the end sound more like whining than a circumstance I could feel heartbroken over.
Aside from the pacing and character issues, Released is a fantastic book. While the science fiction isn’t as predominant in this book as it was in removed, it’s still an important and well-done piece of Pajonas’ writing. The book certainly ends leaving me wanting and waiting for book three with a huge, unexpected twist that I really loved.