After the Crown by K.B. Wagers. ★★★
I had a lot of fun with the fist book in the series, Behind the Throne. By comparison, this second book felt like running head first into a brick wall. I lost all sense of fun I had from the first book and had to slog my way through. I spent a lot of time debating whether or not I’d finish this one, but in the end I felt like I’d put too much time into it to abandon it.
Hail’s trying to organize peace talks with an antagonistic neighboring empire, the Saxons. Unfortunately things don’t go quite as planned. She’s about to face a whole new set of conspiracies and betrayals. Against the odds, she’s got to get back to her home planet and re-seize her throne.
Typing out that synopsis made me realize how much After the Crown was retreading Behind the Throne. It feels like almost essentially the same plot line as the last book, with not enough new twists to differentiate it or keep me interested. I had so much trouble focusing on After the Crown. I’d pick it up and then put it back down again. I left it sitting untouched for days at a time while I started and finished other books. If it wasn’t for that, I might think this was more on me than the book. But if I was reading other things, then I can’t just have been in a bad reading head space.
I was bored by the plot, which meant that the shallow characterization I’d already noticed in the first book really hurt. I could never remember who the supporting characters were. Besides Hail, I tended to get people mixed up. And honestly… and I didn’t care all that much about any of them.
The pacing also felt slow, especially in the middle which was when I wandered away for a few days. I was never immersed in the story, and reading After the Crown felt like a chore. This one’s a resounding “meh.”