Audiobook Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia
Series: Book 2 of The Bone Season
Publisher: Audible Studios (January 27, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Mime Order is the second book in Samantha Shannon’s dystopian series, the follow up to The Bone Season which I had the pleasure of listening to in audio format when it came out. Now that book two is released, I’m happy for the opportunity to review the audiobook of the sequel as well.
The story picks up immediately from the end of The Bone Season, with the daring escape of our main protagonist Paige Mahoney from the prison camp of Sheol I. But even back in London, she is not safe; the security forces of Scion still see voyants and people with supernatural abilities as the enemy and will stop at nothing to hunt down Paige and others like her, selling them as slaves to the otherworldly race known as the Rephaim. As Scion’s iron grip closes in on Paige and her organization, she is forced to use all her resources to lie low and keep moving.
Meanwhile, the clairvoyant community is shattered by a shocking event. As the leaders of the city’s gangs gather for the Unnatural Assembly, all eyes are on Paige and her mime-lord Jaxon Hall as they join the fray and make their play for power. They’re not the only ones taking an interest in our protagonist, however. The Rephaim have come to London and they’re not content with hiding in the shadows anymore, nor are they happy with Paige and what she and the other survivors did to disrupt life back in the prison camps.
This is a very different book compared to its predecessor, with the attention shifting away from Sheol I to focus back on London, and it deals mainly with the aftermath of what happened at the end of The Bone Season. Consequently, there’s much less about the Rephaim and information about their society. What we get instead is a much deeper and more detailed look into the inner workings of the London underworld, ruled by the gangs. It’s almost like an entire new world, as we head back to explore the city where everything first started. If you didn’t feel like you got your fill of London’s darker, grittier side in the first book, you definitely won’t be disappointed here.
We also get a much heavier emphasis on character development this time around. While I like Paige, I must confess that she never truly managed to impress me in The Bone Season. On paper, she was a bit bland and uninspired for a main protagonist, and it was the audiobook narrator Alana Kerr who I credited for bringing Paige to life. In this book, however, I feel Paige is a stronger protagonist in every sense. Samantha Shannon seems to have hit her stride when it comes to writing her main character; I have a better idea of who Paige is and what her motivations are. Her experiences in Sheol I have also hardened her, putting her in a better position to lead
Still, I have a lot of questions about where the series might be going, due to the drastic changes brought on by The Mime Order. It’s a difficult book to review in that sense. At times I felt overwhelmed with all the plot threads and characters to keep track of, while at others there didn’t seem to be enough going on. I was also left wondering where Warden was for much of the story, the Rephaim keeper who was established as a major presence in the first book but doesn’t make his appearance until quite late in this one. I wasn’t that convinced of his and Paige’s relationship in The Bone Season, and I don’t know how much his role in this book helped. There’s certainly not enough to make it a true romance, yet I have the feeling we’re slowly being nudged in that direction. Furthermore, the events in this novel (exciting as they were) seemed rather unplanned and thrown together haphazardly, almost like the author decided to take the story down this path at the very last minute. I thought I knew where things were going after the first book, but now I’m not sure anymore, because it seems we’re taking a very different track.
Granted, my curiosity about the future of this series also makes it quite likely that I will be picking up the next book. Alana Kerr’s narration with her pleasing Irish lilt has also grown on me, so I’ll probably be sticking with the audiobooks as well. I recall stating in my review of The Bone Season that the narration suffered a little because Ms. Kerr could not pull off a broader range of voices, making it difficult to tell which character was speaking, but I have to say her performance is much improved here and I didn’t have the same problem.
The story took a lot of surprising turns in The Mime Order, many that I didn’t see coming. Only time will tell where these new developments will take us, but in the meantime I’m enjoying learning more about the world of these books. Samantha Shannon continues to impress. Several significant revelations were also dropped on us at the end, so I’m looking forward to the next installment.
A review copy of this audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Audible Studios!
Click below to hear a sample of THE MIME ORDER audiobook, narrated by Alana Kerr, courtesy of Audible.