Iridescent is the second book in the Ember series and is not a standalone book. Carol Oates touches upon history featured in Ember, and all of the characters return in Iridescent. I tried to imagine coming into Iridescent without having read Ember; and honestly, I don’t believe it can be done. You, dear reader, would be scrambling trying to make sense of the world created by Oates and everyone’s relationship; therefore, I highly suggest reading Ember first for the back story.
Iridescent picks up right where Ember left off; Candra is still recovering from the death of her best friend, Ivy, while having to deal with saving the world. Late one night, she comes face to face with Lilith, a soul carrier. Lilith tricks Candra into thinking she’s Ivy, and it’s Sebastian who comes to her rescue to set things straight. As always, Sebastian is keeping secrets mainly regarding Lilith’s identity and what she has to with Ivy. Of course, that’s the question everyone is asking: Who is Lilith, and what does she have to do with restoring the Arch?
At the heart of the novel is Candra’s relationship with Sebastian, as well as his relationship with Ananchal, Draven’s twin, and very much Draven’s second in command. If you recall from book one, Candra picks Sebastian in the end, or I suppose it was Draven who gave her up and presented her to Sebastian. Ananchal, it seems, is hiding a deep, dark secret and hopes that by giving Candra back to Draven all will be okay; however, there’s no going back. Candra is still attracted to Draven and fights her attraction. Lilith wants Candra for her own nefarious activities, while Sebastian has to devise a plan to keep Candra safe, but with Ananchal involved, we all know things won’t go quite as smooth. The question then lies regarding Lilith and her involvement. I won’t say much because I do believe you have to read to understand, but Lilith has with her a creation blade. This object is folklore among the fallen/watchers. Some believe the blade can help restore everyone back to the way things were with the Arch and go home while others believe it’s a lost cause.
Oates does make you question your beliefs. For example, Sebastian, Draven, and even Ananchal all want to go home, but is it worth still believing in the Arch? The Arch, in case you’re wondering, is God. Oates does a beautiful job portraying the feelings of those who continue to believe compared to those who have stopped believing. There are a few heartbreaking scenes when belief is brought up, but the scene between Ananchal and Draven left me broken. Here is a perfect example of someone who has stopped believing all the while the believer must deal with the consequences. In the end who is right and who is wrong, and do they both have the right to judge each other’s actions?
Our climatic showdown between Candra and Lilith is not as action packed as I had hoped nor really drawn out; however, Oates delivers a satisfying ending. Hoping to fix the mistakes of the past, Sebastian keeps Draven and Gabriel in the dark regarding his plans. It’s not until everyone has sought the safety of shelter that we find out Sebastian’s plans. The culminating scene is heartbreaking as we see Sebastian return, triumphant with the creation blade, only to fall victim to his wounds sustained by fighting Lilith’s army. Up until Sebastian’s death I had no idea where Oates was going with the story. I kept wondering if we’d have a third book in the series because I had so many unanswered questions. Alas, those questions remain unanswered, but Candra’s purpose and destiny is fulfilled; and we know the fate of the world and everyone in it.
My only complaint has to do with the missing information. At times I felt Oates was giving us all this information; and yet, I felt completely lost thinking I had missed something. A back story with the holes filled in would have been nice. I know some people do enjoy a dark brooding hero (hey, I admit I do); Sebastian, though at times, was a little too moody. I found myself asking who was the teenager, him or Candra? But I realize that his feelings for Candra were very much new to him, and he didn’t quite know how to handle them. I can forgive him for that.
Now Candra…oh, dear Candra, what can I say about you? I know she had her reasons for keeping her plans quiet; but at times, I wanted to shake some sense into her and urge her to go talk to someone about her plans and feelings. If the fate of everyone on Earth was left to me, I’d have everyone locked in a room demanding answers. Everything was bottled up, and I don’t know if the author did this to add a sense of mystery or if it was planned that way. Other than that, Iridescent was an interesting read.