TITLE : A Dance Of Lies (The Outlands Pentalogy #4)
AUTHOR : Rebecca Crunden
GENRE : Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(5 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : 25 September 2018
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Rebecca Crunden for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
A Dance Of Lies is the 4th book in The Outlands Pentalogy. This series gets better with each book and I am all here for it. Each book focuses on a main character’s POV taking us through their tumultuous lives as they fight against the oppression and tyranny of the heavily authoritarian Kingdom. A year of living in the Outlands hasn’t resolved the issues building between Nate, Thom, Kitty, and the rest of the group. Their found family of people of the Kingdom and Radiants have found a routine to their lives, living day to day the best way possible. Not everyone is happy to flee from the Kingdom and wants to fight back against the government. But Nate and Kitty do not wish to return to horrors waiting for them. The internal dissent and tensions rise ever frequently and finally comes to a head; splitting the group into two sides. We see the group splintering and weakening and also see the underlying terror and love that comes off in ways that are not only unhealthy but toxic and controlling for others. Can they live peacefully in the Outlands or will they surrender to the pressure to rescue others oppressed by the Kingdom? Is there such a thing as peace, that can be found for the foreseeable future in the Outlands where the threat of Outcasts is at an all-time high?
Firstly, let me begin by issuing an apology to Rebecca for putting the book for this long. I remember having a bunch of other books I needed to finish and then when I got around to this book, I didn’t know if I could handle anything Rebecca would throw at me at that point. I haven’t fully recovered from the emotional upheaval book 2 , A History Of Madness, and book 3, A Promise Of Return was. My heart has been trodden on and I needed time to recover. Am I strong enough for this one?? No… But life moves on and I need to buckle up and stay strong to get through this. So here we go..
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This book is not as plot-driven as the others were and is not focused on the action. I loved the change of pace in this one. It’s more of a settling into the new life kind of story. We see the focus on the characters, their relationships, and how each character’s emotional and personal growth takes us forward in the story. There are also internal conflicts, individual struggles, trauma, dealing with grief, and hate for the government all coming to a pivotal point and splintering the group. This helps us readers feel more connected with the characters, their lives are relatable because of everyday human issues. Not only does the strength of each character shines through and but also their weaknesses come to the surface. The found family stability is threatened by the tension among the members of the group. Seeing the group handle it makes us understand there is no one right choice, but the best they could all do for themselves, and having to accept that was the hardest thing for them.
The characters are what make this story so riveting and compelling. I couldn’t put down this book. If I could have read it in one day, I would have. While the action is minimal in comparison to the other two, this one packed a heavy knockout punch with the character-focused story. If you know me, you already know that I love slow-paced character-driven stories. I love getting to characters deeply. While Rebecca has given us both plot and character progression in her previous books, this one solely takes us to solidification of the individual identities of the characters and how they work as a unit with the changed personas. There is quite a bit of action and deaths in this one, and see how each event sets the group back after the hard-earned successes. The title of the book is so apt and is essentially a dance of lies that happens between the characters. There are funny moments, lovable moments, cute moments, heart-warming bonds, and everything I wanted from the book.
Source : Giphy
The story is kicked off with a glimpse into Blaise’s life in the Kingdom. Living life according to the rules dictated by the government has caused more issues than imagined for the people. Love is not enough and continuity of human life is prioritized over love and people are forced to marry others to ensure the successful progression of human life. This leads to marriages of convenience and couples in love having to lead lives they want in secret. Blaise and Nadia’s struggles and how humiliating and hurtful it is for Blaise to see his person with another man for the sole purpose of procreation. It takes a piece of himself every time he is with her and tensions are rising in their relationship because of the situation. This again sheds light on the government policies and rulings that affect the regular folks and how oppressive the system is.
Kitty is the one who is leading the story in this book. Catherine of A Touch of Death is not the same person we encounter here. She is so different from the Kitty we know now from both Nate’s and Thom’s POVs. We get to see the transformation and how she is struggling with her new identity. I loved Kitty a lot more as I learned more about her through Nate and Thom. She grew to be understanding and empathetic and has shown so much grace in her life. She is also quite wary of new changes but goes forward embracing life despite the hardships she survived. I loved seeing her evolved and transform herself into the person she is now. Her growing sense of confidence and newfound friendship with Riddle was so beautiful to see. I was cheering her on and saw her bloom and come around to accepting herself. I wanted her to have the best life and it was the start of that for a little while.
Nate is just as hotheaded, passionate, and loyal as he was before. His love is so fierce that he sometimes tries to smother people in it. I still love him. He is damaged and scarred and terrified of losing his family. I wouldn’t blame him for his protectiveness. He understands his issues but at times hasn’t grasped the impact it has on people around him. His love for Thom has no limits and this causes more tension in their family. There are times I wanted to shake Nate so hard just to knock some sense into him. He was at times suffocating Thom with his decisions not stopping to think about Thom and his feelings. I think for me his imperfections are what makes him so interesting to me. Also, he is the dad-like person of the group. He looks after the kids and they all look up to him. He is quite the natural at the whole father thing. I loved how that was his go-to place where he found his strength and purpose. I have seen people like Nate and I know how difficult it is to help them understand the effects of their behavior. I still love him as a character and I understand where he is coming from. I also think it could be frustrating to see his actions affect his loved ones negatively.
Thom became my favorite in A Promise of Return and we got to know him personally. I love how he is still the Thom I got to know and love, but also is someone who has PTSD, has terrors that awake him at night. He is struggling to settle into the newfound way of living. It’s also hard for him to be confined to anything, whether it’s a place, a person, or others. He is someone who enjoyed his freedom and loves to be untethered and we see it rise up in him here as well. The more he is boxed into something he fights back to come out of it. He resists commitment and finds accepting situations so as not to hurt his loved ones often being insincere and lying to himself to convince the opposite. The struggle is evident and he refuses to fight and engage but rather retreats himself back into a shell. His friendship with Riddle and the validation he looks for from his loved ones breaks my heart. It’s sad to see this strong man break apart and find solace in Kitty and Riddle. Nate and even Charles don’t understand him and it takes a toll on his mental health as well. His changed relationship dynamics with Kitty is one I loved to see. They worked very well together and were the best of friends who not only looked out and protected one another but also they are the best partnership of respect and boundaries that I love to see in relationships. The perfect give and take. Giving them space to not only love but also grow even if it isn’t in a romantic sense.
Riddle is my new favorite and I want a Riddle in my life. The man is simply GOLD!! He is fierce, loyal, kind, and also understanding. He is the silent and the strong presence that we saw in the previous books, but also quite the softie. Yes, he is ruthless when it comes to enemies, but is rather tender-hearted when it comes to his loved ones. His growing friendship with Kitty is something I loved and how well he works with Thom giving him what he needs in every moment but also not being intrusive or controlling him.
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Things get tangled up between Thom, Nate, Charles, Riddle, and Kitty. Nate and Kitty have to deal with the new things that come up in their lives. Kitty will have to be honest with Nate. Nate needs to understand that he cannot control the outcomes and will have to let go of things to see the broader picture. My need to shake some sense into a couple of the characters only shows my investment in each of their lives and my wanting to help them out of the hole they dug up for themselves. The Radiants and Humans are prepping for scenarios that would destroy the world and I don’t know if I am strong enough to finish the series.
This series is definitely my kind of series and it makes me mad that not many people have read it or are not talking about it enough. We need to hype this series up and I want to see this on many book lists. It’s not going to surprise any of you when I say I have given the series 5 stars. It was so good and I love how seamlessly the story progresses and I didn’t feel disconnected from any of the characters or the story despite the different POVs. I believe Rebecca has done a fantastic job of bringing together flawed, realistic people to show us the world is not in fact black and white. The world is filled with grey and I am a sucker for grey. The layers and nuances are what make a person whole. If it wasn’t for the internal conflicts, doubts, insecurities, mistakes, and fears it wouldn’t be the story it is.
Overall, this is a brilliant adult series that handles a diverse group of characters with different races, cultures, religious beliefs, sexual identities in a well-rounded manner. This book encompasses people from around the world and brings all of the people together in a great way. I loved it so much and am equally thrilled and sad to get to the final story. If you haven’t read this fantastic series, go pick it up. It’s a wonderful series that going to take you through an emotional roller coaster, make you fall in love with the perfectly imperfect characters and a world that’s realistic in its design. I highly recommend this series for those of you who love reading adult dystopian fantasy/sci-fi stories that are heavily character-driven. It’s fast, thrilling, and a rich world-building that will blow your mind. Pick this book now and read it!!
Source : Giphy
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A year into the Outlands and life has only become more dangerous and complex for Kitty and her friends. Not only are the Outcasts hunting them, but Charles and Ciara are adamant about returning to the Kingdom to help, forcing everyone to take a side. To make matters worse, the leader of the Outcasts, Quen, has an unrelenting fascination with Thom and Nate that soon reaches horrific heights.
As tensions mount and the group begins to splinter, Riddle comes to Kitty with an unexpected request. A secret. One that makes them inseparable.
Kitty soon finds herself spending more and more time away from Nate and Thom, learning to fight and increasingly drawn into the ways of the Radiants. But Kitty and Riddle’s new bond doesn’t come without complications, and a decision made by the two of them threatens more than Kitty’s relationship with Nate.
Source : Goodreads