Sunday, September 2, 2018

Chaos Unleashed (Chaos Rises #2) by Pippa DaCosta

Gamma, half demon, raised in a lab by humans to hunt down and destroy demons, needs allies to rescue her brother

And there can be no greater ally than the Demon Prince of Pride. If you can trust a Demon Prince. And the irony of the Demon Hunter allying with the Demon Prince isn’t lost on her

Gem has a goal - but does she even know what she wants? Or who she can trust?

This book series has a fun world (and this book overtly links Pippa DaCosta’s two worlds)  with demon princes and an array of different demons: from various lesser demons that are animalistic through to a range of elementals. We have half demons, a demonically scarred real world reeling from a major demonic incursion and lots of magic, battles and exploration

It’s an excellent world. The parts of the world lost to demonic power and incursion, demons trying to find their place in the world of humanity or in these little demonic lands. And even the animalistic demons are interesting in their differences and how they are used

But we don’t explore all that much of them. Oh we use a fair bit of it to explore magic and powers and, like the previous book, there is an ongoing sense that there’s a whole lot more to this world than I get to see (I like the merging of the book series because it adds a lot more weight and context to this world building. Argh I like this world but give me more!) but I have to concede that isn’t the point of this book

This book is all about identity - who people are and what they want to be. Oh we have an excellent plot with great conflicts, some interesting relationships and loyalties and some really really really nifty fight and action scenes.

But identity is the core here. Obviously we have Gem herself, the demon, the weapon created by the Institute, the human… something more? She struggles back and forth between human feelings, demonic violence the weapon’s hatred of all things demonic. And this constantly makes her doubt who she is, what she wants and even what feelings are real

There’s her brother Delta, and what is he to her? Can she see him for what he is, what their relationship actually is - can she see past what she wants him to be?

Around her is Torrent, another half demon who has the same demon/human conflict but also his own battle over what he wants to be. How will he grow, which will he preserve - what actually matters to him the most. And can you decide to be something you’re actually not because you value this identity so much?

Then the Demon Prince of Pride - and the conflict over what he is. After all, he is supposed to be the most deceptive, manipulative being on the planet so you can you trust anything he says about what he wants, who he is etc? Can you even trust yourself around something this manipulative? Can you know yourself? Your own motives? Who you are? It’s certainly almost impossible for Gem to see who and

We even have an old member of the Institute whose whole vision of himself and relationship to his former test subjects needs to be questioned and reassessed on a fundamental level

We even have identity issues for things like the lesser demons - we see them as raging monsters most of the time but then we see another side of them as more animalistic than monstrous: include cute and affectionate. Which causes a new conflict about how to deal with them. Even the hell realms themselves also have their own flora, their own products -there’s always more levels.

These personal conflicts are fascinating and while we do have action the core of the book is Gem constantly second guessing herself, her motives, her goals and her allegiances. It’s really well done. Yes… sometimes I want more magic, more conflict, more battles, more finding a place for humans on Earth, more battles with the Institute and more of Pride… but it isn’t fair to critique a book for not being something - especially when what we have is excellent.

We have very few human characters here but several of them are POC: Adam, the Institute human is a POC. Pride, while a demon, presents as a Black man when in his human guise and is definitely powerful, wealthy, charismatic and awesome on several levels. They’re both good, nuanced and complicated characters - and complicated characters are how this book works. There are no LGBTQ characters and Gem does move in a largely male world. We have Vanth but she’s there as an antagonist - the other main characters around her: Delta, Pride, Torrent are male.

This book is a really interesting one. It’s interesting to see how a world that sets up so much physical conflicts, characters who are all about combat and fighting, instead managed to create a series that is all about personal introspection and growth. And it would be easy to make such a book tedious - ye gods I’ve read a lot of tedious books that have tried and failed to present some “personal growth” storylines: but this book really hit it, perfectly.