You may recall back in September, I reviewed Madness, by then-fifteen-year-old author Paityn E. Parque. Now, the author, at all of sixteen, is back with her second novel, the sequel to Madness and part two of her Engine’s Game series, Havoc. As I noted in my review of Madness, I am not reviewing this based on the fact it was written by a sixteen-year-old; I am reviewing this as I do with every other book. That it was written by someone so young, however, is a true testament to the author.
If you read the blurb at the top of this review, you will notice it opens with “they had all killed themselves.” If the use of suicide in a novel triggers you—or self harm, which more broadly, is also referenced in Havoc—I’ll say up front that you may want to steer clear of this book. Suicide plays a large part of this book and works as a major plot device. This isn’t a book that delicately tiptoes around the subject, nor is it a book that deals with the real world ramifications of taking one’s life. That’s not something I hold against the book, but it is worth flagging for anybody who might struggle with the subject matter.
With suicide playing such a large part in the author’s Engine’s Game world, it is probably of little surprise to say that this is a dark book. It is set in a kill or be killed world where the characters are fighting for survival using any means necessary. These means are often violent, and Havoc doesn’t pull away from this, presenting the violence in an unflinching, visceral manner.
Havoc continues the story of protagonist Ezra, now going by the name anointed to her in Madness, Shadow. I’m loath to provide much detail about the plot for fear of spoiling not just this book, but also its predecessor. It picks up immediately from where Madness left off, with Shadow recovering from the events of that book, determined to now take the fight to the mysterious Engine.
As this is the second part of the author’s Engine’s Game series that picks up in the aftermath of the first, it is obviously a continuation of an ongoing story. It doesn’t go to great lengths to get the reader up to speed with what has come before, but if you read this in isolation, while you might initially find yourself lost, the story fills in enough details about the world and what has come before to ensure you’ll be following the story within a couple of chapters. That said, I would highly recommend reading Madness first. With more story to come, the ending is open-ended, but it provides enough of a resolution to ensure the story feels complete once you reach the end.
Throughout Havoc, the author expands on the mythology she created, adding layers upon layers to it, building not just upon the world, but also adding more mystery around Engine and the threat they pose. At an estimated 360 pages on Kindle (at the time of writing, the paperback has not yet been published), it is a little longer than the first volume, but remains a reasonably quick read that doesn’t outstay its welcome. There is a fair amount of plot for this story to get through, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. The judicious word count doesn’t interfere with this; this book does not feel underwritten, nor does it feel as though the events are summarised.
Havoc’s relative brevity can largely be attributed to the author’s writing style, which is formed by short sentences and paragraphs. Parque doesn’t waste her words and makes economical use of the words. Given the characters and themes present in the book, the intended audience for this novel is young adults, and the brevity in these paragraphs fits well within the genre.
I do find myself wishing there was a bit more time spent getting into the character’s emotions, however. As I have mentioned earlier, Havoc is a bloody, brutal tale, and the events the author puts her characters through are traumatic. The book acknowledges that it is putting these characters through the wringer, and it does show that these events are taking its toll on the characters. The character to benefit from this most of all is Shadow, being the point of view character, but when dealing with her trauma and mental state, the book doesn’t provide much detail. This is also true of characters’ romantic feelings towards one another, where the writing tells us how characters feel about each other, without focusing as much on the whys of it all. If the book spent a little more time inside these characters’ heads, I feel they could have come across as more relatable, and more sympathetic characters.
In my review of Madness, I mentioned that it often takes a black and white view, presenting its themes with simplistic explanations. This also holds true to Havoc to a degree, however it is something that is only noticeable in certain sections of the book, rather than an ongoing issue.
Havoc is a bloody and brutal story. If you enjoy young adult stories, don’t get too squeamish with violence and don’t struggle too much with themes of suicide and references to self harming, there is a lot to love in this book. While I wish a little more time had been spent delving into the characters’ emotions and headspaces, it doesn’t detract too much from a thoroughly entertaining read.
The unseen force was so strong that it flung Shadow through the van doors. Maybe she should be thankful that she was flying out of a moving vehicle.
Because, just as she flew out, the van exploded.Havoc, Chapter 33
Havoc was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Havoc is available on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon, including Kindle Unlimited. It will be released in paperback at a later date.
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Interested in purchasing Librarian?
Why not get it from Amazon, via the handy link below? Please note, not only will you be supporting the author, you may also be supporting me by way of a small commission from any items purchased (and no, it won’t cost you anything extra!).Havoc (Engine’s Game Book 2)