I’m so late to the party with this book and it had already well and truly sucked me in before I realised it was a sequel to a book I haven’t read. Thankfully this didn’t matter.
I fell for Rev and Emma straight away. I can’t go past an outcast, troubled teen story, especially when the characters are dealing with so many huge things on top of simply surviving adolescence.
Rev was fostered and eventually adopted by Geoff and Kristin after he was removed from his preacher father’s care. Rev’s father has made contact with him for the first time in ten years and it’s bringing back all of the emotions and memories he’s tried so hard to bury. Rev hides beneath his hoodie.
Emma’s mother is critical of her and her father, who she adores, is too busy with technology to be aware of anything that’s happening in her life. Emma is really proud of the game she designed but online isn’t the safe space it used to be. Emma hides behind her computer.
“I think I need someone real, too”
Rev and Emma worked so well together. I am a tad obsessed with the scene where they sit back to back texting because it’s easier than sitting face to face talking.
“I’m not good at this.”
“Not good at what?”
He gestures between us. “This. I’m not – I’m not good with people.”
“I’m not either.”
Their awkwardness endeared them to me. Their courage to face their past and present encouraged me. The fact that they retained some softness rather than being made up entirely of sharp edges inspired me. I love underdog stories!
Where Emma’s arc led her was predictable and we never found out for sure who N1ghtmare was, although I suspect they were the person she was in the car with when she sent Rev her location.
I would step in front of a speeding train for Texas, Emma’s Labrador. She can have as many chicken nuggets as she wants.
I hurt for Matthew. The secrets he’s been carrying are absolutely heartbreaking. I need to know what his life looks like in the years after this book.
I spent most of the book wanting to know more about Declan, wishing I could read his story. Lo and behold, the author has already worked their magic. Dec is one of the stars of the first book, which I bought as soon as I finished reading this one. It’ll be my next read. Because Dec and Rev are best friends, I’ll also get to hang out with Rev some more.
My main niggle was with Cait’s character. She had so much potential, yet she was pushed to the background for most of the story. I need her to teach me how to do makeup.
Once she made her face look like she was unzipping her skin
I’ll be her guinea pig whenever she wants to experiment with new weird and wonderful makeup ideas.
As usual, I sent a test email to Robert and Rev’s email addresses. Neither of them wanted to talk to me; both emails were undeliverable.
Favourite no context quote:
“We all push sometimes, just to make sure someone is on the other side, pushing back.”
Content warnings include emotional abuse, foster care, miscarriage, online harassment, physical abuse, religious abuse, sexual assault and stalking. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with one scene.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Children’s Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Every day Rev struggles with the memories and demons of the time before he was adopted. He’s always managed just fine, until a letter from his birth father brings hellfire, fear and danger back into his life.
Emma escapes her life in an online game she built herself. Virtual reality is so much easier than real life. But then another player joins the game and suddenly ultra-violent threats start to stream in…
When Rev and Emma meet, they are fighting a darkness they can’t put into words. But somehow they hear each other and together they might be able to find a way out…