The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
The Mime Order continues the story of Paige Mahoney picking up immediately where the Bone Season left off with Paige and others making a daring escape from Sheol I – a brutal prison camp where those people known as voyants are taken and treated as slaves. (Bone Season review here).
Be warned – this is the second in series and as such this review may contain spoilers.
The escape from Sheol I doesn’t go completely smoothly and the rag tag bunch of escapees are forced to separate and seek cover. Scion, of course, are pulling out all the stops to find the fugitives and Paige quickly heads up to the top of the most wanted list!
To be honest I probably enjoyed this book more than the Bone Season. I really liked the setting and appreciated the opportunity to find out a little more about the psychics and their capabilities, which on reflection I don’t think was fully explored in the first novel or maybe just not explained well enough. To be honest this is a fairly extensive area and I admit that there is a lot to pick up and run with but I felt that this area was better developed in this instalment. We also have a little more back story on the Rephaim which was interesting and gives a little more idea about why they’re so split!
The Mime Order gives us a very detailed exploration into the shady underground world that the psychics inhabit. This is dark and seedy, filled with desperate characters and plenty of deception. A good deal of the story centres around the politics between the different gangs, particularly the dynamics between a Mime Lord and a Mollisher, how the different gangs interact and the whys and wherefores of selecting a new Mime King or Queen (or overlord).
On the face of it, and boiled down to a few short words – the plot isn’t massive or sweeping in scope. The escapees are trying to survive, avoid recapture and warn the rest of their community of the impending danger that looms. Not easy in a world where not only is everything not always what it seems but people are more often than not duplicitous. The task is also not made easy due to the general ambivalence or lack of interest of the inhabitants of the underground to anything other than the goings on within their own realm.
This is quite a weighty novel to be sure and I guess you could be forgiven for thinking the pace less than speedy particularly given the actual amount that it moves the story forward but in spite of that I really enjoyed it. The setting was interesting and the detail provided lends the story a little bit more depth. The first half does carry a weight of information but this is then alleviated by a much more pacy second half where death and deceit pretty quickly take centre stage.
In terms of criticisms. Well, personally, and I realise I’m in a minority here, but I’m not enamoured with the romantic side of the story. It feels a little superfluous at this point and is one of my bones of contention at the moment where it seems to have become par for the course that a story must have some sort of romance. That being said this instalment barely touches upon that element of the story and whilst that may be a disappointment to some I found it a bonus. I also can’t deny that, whilst appreciating the inclusion of more detail, the number of psychic distinctions is a little bit overwhelming to grasp.
In terms of the characters. In the Bone Season I felt that Paige definitely came across as a flawed character and this continues in the Mime Lord. I do like her but I don’t love the character and surprisingly the character I really enjoyed reading here was Jaxon, Paige’s Mimelord. Don’t get me wrong – he’s not a lovable character at all but he has a deliciously wicked streak that puts me in mind of a Dickensian type villain. In fact the underground, the gangs, and the slum like setting all had the feeling of something straight out of a Dickens novel and, as the central theme of the book seems to revolve around Jaxon and Paige this definitely made the book a good deal more enjoyable.
There’s a lot of sneaking around and tension filled moments – not least as we near the conclusion and Jaxon and Paige reveal their true intentions!
I really enjoyed the Mime Order, it’s a perfect setup for the next in series and I look forward to reading that when it becomes available.
I’d like to thank the publishers for approving me for a copy of this through Netgalley. The above is my own opinion.