(Actual rating: 4.5)
I RECEIVED AN ARC OF THIS BOOK. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE COMPLETELY MY OWN.
I think I loved this book even more than I liked the first one. While the first Markram Battles book felt like set up--which is good, because it gave me a chance to get a feel for the characters--this one felt like action. I understand Seven and Thirteen better now, I like them more, I feel for them when they hurt. Though sometimes I got the characters mixed up--especially since everyone is named after a number--there weren't too many to keep track of. I like it better when stories have a small cast of characters rather than large ones.
The length of each short story was perfect. They were short enough that I didn't feel overwhelmed and wanted to keep reading, but long enough to deliver a good story. Hall of Monsters was my favorite. There was a nice mix of action and description throughout all three stories, and the writing was lovely. This quote, for example, is one of my favorites:
"Most people picture hell as a fiery inferno of darkness. But they are wrong. Hell is white, white as snow. Spotless. Stark. Incandescent. A sandy cage of crystal glass where strangers come to gloat at the monsters they have created."
Seven's voice comes out flat. "You are not a monster."
"Are you sure about that? We kill for a living. Thrust our blades into the souls of our rivals only to satiate the blood thirst of a crowd that wouldn't enjoy watching more than to see us die."
He lets out a grunt, barely loud enough for me to hear. "We fight to live."
"We fight to survive. This is no way to live." I drop my head and look at the metal floor before me.
"What are you saying?"
For a second I don't think I am strong enough to answer, but when I open my mouth, my words come out in a whisper. "I'm saying that maybe this isn't worth it."
Seven leans closer. "I think we are worth it."
My eyes snap back up, tears pooling at the edges of my vision. "I think we are damned."
And the ending was perfect! The cliffhanger on the last story is one of the best cliffhangers I've seen in a long time. I can't wait for the sequel!