Jumping back into Emma’s story, readers go from Archetype and onto the second and final instalment, Prototype. After a year of running trying to find her parents, she finds sanctuary and safety with the Resistance. She hopes to build a life of her own there, but struggles confronting the man she loves, Noah Tucker, who has moved on and is raising their daughter with another woman. She is constantly reminded of her past, the one that wasn’t entirely her own and the one she lived, and what she is. Meanwhile, Declan Burke wishes to reclaim her, getting the public on his side with both sympathy and reward money to hunt down his wife and bring her back to him. It’s up to Emma to fight for her life and freedom, taking a stand for what she wants.
I had high expectations for this book after such a fantastic, shocking ending in the first novel (If you haven’t read my Archetype review, go check that out first). I can see both books appealing to an audience not quite familiar with the science fiction genre and welcoming them into it for the very first time, but for science fiction fanatics like me, Prototype falls short.
The beginning of the novel goes full-force, exciting and full of action, but then the story takes a turn, moving along a little too slowly for my taste. I think a lot of authors fall into this trap. They start out on such a high note (the novel’s downfall), but they’re unable to carry it through the whole story. The climax was predictable and too short. One way I’d describe the novel is: it’s like you’re a surfer and you start out catching this incredible wave to ride, giving you this crazy rush. As it dies down, you’re back to sitting on your board, idle in the calm waters waiting for that next wave, but it doesn’t come for what feels like ages. When it does show itself, the wave feels more like you’re skimming over a small hill—a short-lived, ho-hum experience.
I felt like I was just moving from one box to the next. In Archetype, readers are stuck in Emma’s head and she’s confined to the research facility or Declan’s home. In Prototype, Emma, again, moves from one confined space to another. Most of her time is spent in the Resistance’s underground hideout, but then she goes to Declan’s home, an apartment in San Francisco, to the art gallery, to a party, and even returns to the research facility. Emma was mostly moving room to room, building to building. Granted, she stepped outside here and there, but only a few times.I wanted Emma’s world to be a little more expanded this time around. Readers only got small glimpses into this world, making you crave for plenty more.
Some parts came across a little too cliché for me too. There’s a masquerade scene. While I love the concept of one, do you realize how overdone they are? I’ve read a ton of vampire books. Trust me, I’ve had my share of masquerade balls. This is a science fiction book. I would have preferred a high-end party, where Emma would have to use some sort of tech to hide her appearance instead.
Aside from that, I think where Waters lacks in world building she makes up for it with great characters. Each of them was well-rounded with distinctive personalities that if they could jump out of the page and live here in the real world if they could. I loved the new characters in Prototype: Miles, Leigh, and Dr. Malcolm. They were fun and added a sense of humour I quite enjoyed. However, I think they overshadowed other characters I wished I could have learned more about, like Foster, Declan, and Dr. Travista. They just take a backseat in this novel as if they were mere extras in a movie.
While I loved getting to know Emma in Archetype, I found her a little annoying, even desperate, in Prototype. She came across too mopey and sometimes more concerned about winning Noah back instead of actively trying to fight for her own freedom. She says she’s against violence, but still fights because she’s good at it or feels like she has no other choice. I always think actions speak louder than words. If she wanted to handle things in a more peaceful manner, I think she should have followed through by finding a non-violent solution. In Prototype, I found myself wishing this was a prequel instead. I would have loved experiencing life with “old” Emma because I wanted something more action-packed, instead of something so focused on romance.
It is inevitable to compare this novel, this series, to other science fiction works out there and the ones I’ve read. Archetype was definitely the stronger novel of two. Instead of glossing over a whole year, I would have loved to explore more of Emma’s world, finding out what it looks like, what other people thought of the world’s current state (especially hearing from girls and women in WTCs aka Women’s Training Centers), learning about other technologies, how Emma coped being alone, how she survived, and hid for so long.
As a science fiction fan, I felt it was a bit of a letdown. The second book isn’t strong enough to stand on its own like Archetype. These two books could have easily been edited down into one book or Prototype should have been fleshed out better. This novel was a comfortable read at best. The writing was smooth and descriptive, and the chapters were short that it was easy to keep turning pages. But I felt like I was mostly reading Prototype to find out how everything ended and to be able to say I completed the series.
*Disclosure: An advance reading copy was provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions within this review are solely my own, not that of the publisher or the author.