If you haven’t read the first novel, Folsom, check out my review here!
Genre: Romance, Dystopia
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: June 29, 2018
Jackal Emerson has never taken himself seriously. Dubbed the “orgy king,” he’s renowned for his reputation as the wild End Man. But with the uprising on the horizon and his best friend missing, Jackal is having a hard time living the same carefree existence.
And then he meets a thief and everything changes.
Phoenix Moyo, principal dancer of a notorious ballet company, lives a life of rigidity. When her world collides with Jackal’s, their chemistry is evident to everyone except her. Forced to work with him to steal the most precious commodity of the Regions, she realizes too late that there is no escaping Jackal’s charisma.
When unimaginable crimes come to light, the Regions begin to crumble. No one is safe. Families divide and secrets are exposed, danger running rampant on every side. For some, sacrifice costs everything.
Edit: I changed my initial star rating from three to two stars after writing my review and realizing I had only negative things to say about the novel.
Wow. Was that ever a let down compared to the first novel, Folsom. Everything about Jackal reads like a means to an end for Gwen and Folsom’s story despite their very limited appearances.
The world building in Folsom was a great start to the series. It excited the reader enough to want to continue reading and discover more about the Society and how it functions. Unfortunately, Jackal does absolutely nothing to further the world building. Instead, Fisher and Aster almost regress by allowing their characters to run wild while still trying to assert the Society’s control. There are too many moments where Jackal is able to do something without anyone’s knowledge in order to push the plot along or further his “relationship” (will expand upon that further) with Phoenix. It’s hard to believe that this all-powerful government would let the End Men continue with their freedom, or whatever they considered freedom before Folsom escaped, let alone allow them to speak to one another. My suspension of disbelief was destroyed to say the least.
I put the word relationship in quotations earlier because I did not see any semblance of a relationship between Jackal and Phoenix. Fisher and Aster know how to write sizzling hot chemistry between two characters, but that was all Jackal and Phoenix had. They had no deeper connection besides their intense physical attraction to each other. They had no meaningful conversations or eye opening moment about how disgusting their world had become. This is due in part to Jackal’s enjoyment of his lifestyle. There isn’t a moment where Jackal becomes disillusioned by his work. He only does the things he does because he’s following Phoenix.
The aspect of this novel I hated the most was Phoenix and her eating disorder. For whatever reasons, the authors’ chose to have Phoenix struggle with an eating disorder as a ballerina. Unfortunately, they do absolutely nothing with it other than glamorize the shit out of it. It’s referenced here and there for no other reason than to make the main character petite. Phoenix has no internal struggle, no defining moment, or no step towards recovery. Her eating disorder is featured to glamorize it and that’s it.
And finally, the epigraphs. The beginning of each chapter features an interesting fact about the animal kingdom and matting. These epigraphs do not relate to the story whatsoever. None of the characters are interested in animals or insects. None of the characters have a background in research or anything even remotely related to entomology or zoology. It’s a complete waste.
Overall, Jackal is a complete and utter disappointment after the compelling dystopian romance that was Folsom. Where Folsom succeeded at asking questions about gender norms, reproductive rights, and the lengths people are willing to go to control those rights. Jackal succeeds at creating expendable characters and tearing down the already established world building.