The Paradox (#2 The Oversight)
By Charlie Fletcher
Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars
‘SOMETIMES YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR – SOMETIMES IT LOOKS BACK
Those who belong to the secret society called the Oversight know many things. They know cold iron will hold back the beasts in the darkness. They know it is dangerous to stand between two mirrors. And they know that, despite their dwindling numbers, it remains their duty to protect humanity from the supernatural. And vice versa.
But two of the society’s strongest members, Mr. Sharp and Sara Falk, are trapped in the world between the mirrors, looking for each other, searching for a way back home. What they discover there will have ominous consequences both for the Oversight and the world it protects, effects that will make them question everything they thought they knew…’
I absolutely adored the first book in this series. I’d previously enjoyed Fletcher’s fiction for children (Stoneheart etc.) but I was floored by the brilliance of The Oversight (my rave review can be found here). With that in mind I was definitely going into this book with very high expectations, this has probably affected my rating and review. There is a good chance that my rating will bump up a little on a reread, but I’ll have to give it a bit of distance before I try again.
Many of the aspects that I enjoyed about the first novel are still present, but on the first read I was disappointed. It didn’t seem to live up to its potential and, unfortunately, it really felt like The Paradox suffered from second/middle book syndrome. It’s that difficult second album all over again: too many directionless plot strands, no clear focus and not a lot of plot progression. I know this is meant to be a trilogy. but the end of the novel feels far too open to be able to wrap up the arc of this series in just one more book.
We pick up where the first book left off: The Oversight is in turmoil, two of its original members are missing and the remaining three are struggling to heal their wounds and train the new recruits. The Templebanes are crippled by the loss of one of their leaders but are plotting revenge from the shadows, the Citizen is still skulking about and ‘The Ghost’ is out to wreak havoc against her oppressors.
Considering the spectacular cliff-hanger we were left on at the end of the first book, I was expecting something a lot more action-packed is this instalment. Surprisingly, as he was already juggling a lot of characters, Fletcher brings in another ‘main’ character for us to follow and, whilst I liked her, she was one person too many to juggle. Also, towards the end we got yet more Oversight aligned characters and it really became a bit ridiculous.
With the plot split along so many different directions nothing seemed to progress and it all felt too bitty. I enjoyed the style choice of the short chapters in the first book and I didn’t find myself skipping ahead at all then, but I definitely did this time around. Somehow, this book was just tipped too far the wrong way.
One of the best things about the first book were the sections with the villains. This aspect of the book is still prominent, but we spend a lot more time with the Sluagh than the Templebanes and I just don’t find them as interesting! This is perhaps more personal preference than anything to do with the quality of the writing. ‘The Ghost’ however was a fascinating character and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her very precariously balanced antics.
I’m still going to read the next book in the series because I enjoy Fletcher’s writing style and I’m fascinated by his ever-expanding world. But I’m glad I got #2 from the library rather than buying it – I’m definitely going to do the same with #3.