I decided to review the series as a whole, because it makes the most sense. So, try to bear with me, since this might
get lengthy, and will
contain a lot of gushing praise.
First off, this series made me wonder how many amazing books I dismiss on the grounds of them not being 'my type' or being too long. Now, since I like a lot of different genres, I sometimes end up giving a book such as ICoS
a chance. I initially thought the dystopian setting wouldn't be my thing–so utterly wrong!–and I was taken aback by the length of the series–imagine my surprise when I wanted it to be even longer!
Frankly, I have to thank my girls with whom I BRed Evenfall
in the first place, because if it weren't for them, I'm not sure I would have given in anytime soon–or ever.
I don't even know how to begin to say what this series means to me... It consumed me for a few months, and I became so involved in this incredible world that I put Fade
on hold for almost 3 months, because I couldn't bear with the thought of it ending. When I picked it up again, it was like coming home. ICoS
has become my absolute favorite series ever, and I'm afraid nothing will top it soon. It was BRILLIANT
, undeniably so!!!Warning: This book demands a lot of feelings!
There are friendships built, as well as destroyed, there are relationships born, there's love, but also heartache, there are misunderstandings, and life-altering experiences. The characters have to deal with abuse–both psychological and physical–pain, manipulation, complete loss of control over their lives, trauma, violence, and a bunch of other things not meant for the weak of heart, or for readers who simply do not enjoy angst. Because, let me tell you, Afterimage
was the most angsty book I've EVER read! In spite of all the fucked up things, the series also portrays incredibly strong bonds, loyalty, love, redemption, hope, and a flicker of happiness. Frankly, it's an emotional rollercoaster–it will make you angry, it will rip your heart out and stomp all over it, it will make you cry, but it will also make you snort with laughter, feel for the characters, and you will fight and hope right along with them. Oh, and let's not forget the heat factor, because there are a lot of steamy scenes which will have you hyperventilating. ;-)The settingIcoS
takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, and revolves around the Agency, a heavily protected organization, which does all the dirty work of the government. They are the very definition of the ends justifying the means, no matter which consequences those who are involved have to suffer from. Needless to say, I was completely fascinated by the dystopian world created by the authors. The details painted such vivid images into my brain, that I couldn't help but feel I was right there all along. I was lost inside this amazing world for months!The plot
There's an expansive period of time over which ICoS
takes place–about 6 years, give or take. Naturally, that means that a LOT of things happen–agent trainings, promotions, missions, relationship changes, near-death experiences, vacations etc. Because of the details, the reader comes to know each and every character quite well, concerning their pasts, hidden desires, fears, dreams, and everything in-between. The Agency is based in Lexington, but there are missions all over the world, including France, Russia, Spain (Monterrey–aka best mission ever), China etc.The charactersHsin Liu Vega aka Sin
Sin... Oh, man! How does one even begin to describe him? Sin has been dealt a shitload of crap his whole life, basically. He had a very difficult childhood, having had to put up with a lowlife mom, an absent father, and a life in a brothel in China, where he was abused for years. Eventually, his father came to the rescue, having no clue how to deal with or much less raise a child, so he trained Sin, he turned him into the best assassin, a living weapon. At the age of 14, Sin was recruited by the Agency, and the blows just kept coming from then on out. People called him the Monster, they were afraid of him, and the Agency treated him no better–they only sent him on killing sprees, they locked him up, tortured him, punished him, and worsened his mental illnesses. Along came Boyd, who turned Sin's world around, and who made him feel again. Once he opened up to Boyd and started trusting him, Sin changed for the better–he was passionate, he poured everything into the relationship, learned to communicate, he was protective, and would have died for his partner. Sin is very complex–he's gorgeous, sarcastic, intelligent, perfect at doing his job as an assassin, fearless, quick-witted, and tough. Frankly, I could go on and on, because I am so smitten with him, it's not even funny!Boyd Beaulieu
Boyd has had his fair share of pain, too. His father died when he was just a kid, and his mother became a key player at the Agency, and later recommended him to be Sin's partner. Boyd is androgynous and openly gay, and that has led to people treating him a certain way and hurting him badly. He is beautiful, and at the beginning, he's just as cold as his mother, having closed off to protect himself because of past trauma. But beneath that, there's an amazing person, who's brave, a talented artist, clever, strong, and a reliable friend. When it came to Sin, Boyd made some mistakes which pissed me off–because how dare he hurt my baby–but then again, their relationship was
dysfunctional on both sides for a while. [Warning–for those of you who loathe it: That includes cheating.]
Regardless, he loved Sin fiercely, he saved him, he was the first person to fight for his partner, and he never left his side.Emilio Vega
Emilio fucking Vega is, to sum it up, sex on legs! He lives by his own rules, bows down to no one, is handsome and sexy, fucks both men and women, takes drugs, drinks, doesn't give a shit, and exudes charm, which attracts people. He's also a hilarious mofo, and his banter had me snort-laughing on multiple occasions. He's been through a lot, and managed to rise and make something of his situation every time, for which I admired him, and my heart broke every time he dropped the emotionless asshole act and showed his humanity. That especially applied to his relationship with Carhart, with whom he always let his guard down, and who managed to hurt him more than anyone. Needless to say, I just wanted to hug him at those times. I really adored Emilio!Zachary Carhart
Zachary aka General Carhart is hard for me to describe, because I loved him, but there were times when I wanted to hurt him real bad. Carhart is like a second father to Sin, but because of his position at the Agency, he has to make a lot of heartless decisions on Sin's account, and that made me angry. On the other hand, he also protected Sin, so I guess I eventually forgave him for the other crap. Another thing which killed me was his whole attitude towards Emilio. Their relationship has always been fucked up, but Carhart was always aware of the fact that Emilio loved him, but he still didn't allow himself to pursue his own feelings, and ended up hurting Emilio too many times to count. The moment when he finally gave in was fantastic.Kassian Trovosky
Kassian is practically the opposite of Sin in every possible way. He has the same status at the Agency, but while Sin is seen as the Monster, Kass is the Perfect Agent, and everyone looks up to him–Sin gets a kick out of sarcastically calling him Captain America, haha. Well, obviously, he's anything but perfect. He is an alcoholic and has numerous personal demons which make him suffer. I really liked his friendship with Boyd and willingness to stand up and fight for his friends in general.Ryan
Ryan is just awesome! He is one of Boyd's closest friends, and among the only people who are not afraid of Sin–on the contrary, he admires him greatly. Ryan is clever, friendly, enthusiastic, and an optimist–despite having his own hardships in life. He is also brilliant and warmhearted.Owen
Owen is pure sunshine, he lights up boring debriefings, he's always hyperactive, because he drinks a gallon of coffee a day to help with his sleep deprivation. In spite of his jokes and games, he's highly intelligent. I loved him!Vivienne Beaulieu
To say I had conflicted feelings about Vivienne would be an understatement. See, she's a major bitch, fucking ice queen and gets the worst mother of the century award. Still, when she allowed a flicker of her feelings to show, and her mask cracked just a bit, I kind of felt bad for her, and understood the reasons why she had to be who she was. But mostly, I hated her with a passion for everything she put Boyd through. For all that crap, she had no excuse whatsoever.Other characters
Of course there are many more characters than the ones I mentioned, but I merely listed the most important of them all.Conclusion
Brilliant series! Almighty authors! Fantastic reading experience!Important note
The books are free. You can download them here
. You're welcome! ;-)