When I wrote my review of The Queen of the Tearling about a year ago, I mentioned that I had concerns about the appropriateness of the book for teens, young teens in particular. I decided to read the second book for a couple of reasons–I did enjoy the story, and I wanted to see how it continued, but I also wanted to see if the second book had the same degree of concerning content as the first. Sadly, not only does Invasion continue the theme of sexual violence, in some ways it is worse. There are some spoilers ahead.
Kelsea is still a strong character, and she does strive to rule her people wisely. Her actions in the first book come back to haunt her as the Red Queen invades, hence the title. However, Kelsea also goes down a bit of a dark path, and she makes choices that could compromise her integrity. Yes, she is a ruler, and sometimes leaders have to make hard choices, but some of the choices she makes seem to be abuses of the power she holds. She does redeem herself to some extent by the end, and the third book in the series should clarify whether her ethically gray choices will have positive or negative repurcussions.
This book also splits between two times and places, as Kelsea’s consciousness travels back to observe the life of a pre-Crossing woman named Lily, and Lily lives in a dystopian version of our world that is particularly horrible to women. There is clearly a connection between the two women, and Kelsea is supposed to learn from Lily’s experiences. However, the Lily sections are particularly tough. At one point she is brutally and graphically raped by her husband, and that scene again raised doubts about why this book is considered Young Adult.
Will I read the third book? Probably–because I do want to know how the story ends, and there are good things about the characters and the story. But nothing in this second book made me reconsider its appropriateness for anyone under the age of sixteen.