Book Review: The Witnesses by Stephanie Black
I loved "The Believer", Stephanie Black's first book. In fact, I think I gave it five stars which I do very rarely. So I was thrilled to see this sequel published at last, and it didn't disappoint.
Set in the same carefully crafted and plausible dystopion world, The Witnesses takes up where The Believer ended, with the main characters in hiding and desperate to escape New America. The plot doesn't go in the direction you expect, and there are many surprises leading to the very satisfying and unexpected ending. The sense of menace doesn't let up, and the characters are complex but consistent and distinct. Alisa, in particular, is fascinating, and her development over the course of the two books is beautifully portrayed.
The only problem I found was that it was too long since I had read "The Believer" and with such a large cast of characters, many of whom are involved with or related to others, I was sometimes a little at a loss to place everyone and therefore to understand fully what was going on. This book is very definitely a sequel, and really wouldn't work as a stand-alone book. In fact, I recommend that you re-read the first book before you dive into this one in order to fully appreciate it.
The first half also dragged a little for me, mainly serving to build tension and re-establish characters. The ending was excellent, however, with plenty of action and satisfying surprises. I particularly liked the character of President Ryce.
Overall an excellent book, very well written as usual, but one best read in conjunction with The Believer.