Author: Kiersten White
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Year of Publication: 2017
Main Characters: Lada—just as ruthless as ever, and somewhat foolish. Radu—breaks my heart in every chapter.
Secondary Characters: I fell in love with several of the secondary characters in this book. First and foremost, we finally meet Hunyadi! I was expecting him to be unkind (he is a pretty fierce guy), but I was surprised by how normal and compassionate he was, even to the son who wanted nothing to do with him. Nazira is the best thing that ever could have happened to Radu. She was indispensable to his mission and a great partner, although I wish we could have followed her more. Last, but not least, we have Cyprian. I adored Cyprian, and think he is a perfect match for Radu. He is brave and caring, and can offer Radu everything Mehmed refuses to.
Pacing: Having two perspectives in the first book added another layer to the plot. In this book, I felt that it was disruptive, because Lada and Radu were in completely different settings. Also, the alternating chapters were not taking place at the same pace, so I felt stuck in a time warp. The only things connecting the siblings were their thoughts of Mehmed and Constantinople.
Accuracy of Publisher’s Synopsis: This synopsis was rather vague, but the last sentence about empires toppling and thrones being won and lost summed everything up succinctly.
Resolution: Now I Rise ended the only way it could while remaining true to history.
The Good: I got some good laughs out of this book. I particularly enjoyed Radu’s interactions with Mehmed at the end. Radu was not about to let Mehmed resume their relationship like he hadn’t just put Radu through hell. I am so proud of Radu for everything he accomplished and his commitment to doing the right thing, no matter what the cost. In that way, he is far braver than Lada. I thought it was a nice touch for Radu and Lada to think about how much each missed the other and could use their expertise. I appreciated White’s evoking the sibling bond despite the physical distance. There is an unkind part of me that enjoyed Lada’s inner struggle with her femininity. She was forced to tackle a lot of normal female issues and come to terms with the fact that while her femaleness is not avoidable, it is something she can learn to exploit.
The Not So Good: Lada was a disappointment to me in several ways. I already thought it was reckless to try and take back her old country with just a small band of soldiers, but her meeting with Mehmed proved her immaturity to me more than anything else. If Mehmed knew the only way to lure Lada was by offering her what she really wanted, why would he even bother to come if he wasn’t prepared to offer it to her and only wanted to ask her to marry him again? I need to understand it from his viewpoint, because it seems like a waste of his valuable time. Also, Lada killed everyone. Some of those killings were unnecessary and made me cringe. One would think that with the trail of bodies she leaves behind her, her reputation would have preceded her into Tirgoviste; I was confused that while the guards were quaking in their boots at seeing her, the boyars treated her like a petulant child. On a side note, I do not approve of Lada using Bogdan to replace Mehmed.
The war was a little monotonous to me. I wish Radu had spent less time fighting and more time scouting and sneaking around, or maybe getting a little closer to Cyprian. I was disappointed that Radu didn’t really build any strong relationships with anyone in this book. He cared for Cyprian in his own head, but he only acted on his attachment briefly, when Cyprian’s life was in danger.
Overall Impression: Predictably, Lada acted without thinking and Radu sacrificed his happiness and safety for a man who couldn’t return his feelings. There was a lot of pain and suffering, but there was also hope and love. Now I Rise had fewer layers than the first book, but more potential, as if it were building up to something. The ending held the promise of a great final installment.
Would I recommend it? I could go either way. I enjoyed this one more than And I Darken, but I felt that there was very little going on for Lada and Radu in their personal lives. They were more soldiers than people, and their growing weariness was palpable.
What I would like to see in the final installment:
1. I was just dying to read some part of this book from Mehmed’s perspective. I hope White either adds him in to the last book or writes a novella from his point of view. Otherwise, I can only guess at his thoughts and motives; he never shares his true reasoning.
2. Lada, for goodness’ sake, learn to be diplomatic. If you just kill everyone you meet, you will have no one to rule over.
3. Radu needs his love life sorted out. That includes talking to Mehmed about his feelings and making amends with Cyprian, provided Cyprian made it out safely.
4. Mehmed, it’s time to give up on Lada. Mehmed is a weakness for Lada, but she will never give him what he wants, so it’s a moot point. And please, stop using Radu for your dirty deeds; he deserves so much more than that.
5. I need Radu and Lada to see each other again. They are polar opposites who truly make a whole when put together.