MORE THAN WE CAN TELL
I'll admit I'm on a Brigid Kemmerer kick and I can assure you that I'll read two more books before I move on.
We meet Rev in Letters to the Lost – he's Declan's best friend – and I was so excited that he had his own book. His character was so intriguing and I wanted more of him. I wanted to know if he had a happy ending.
Rev Fletcher has a horrible past. His father was abusive and Rev will carry the scars on his body and in his memories for a lifetime. But he's managed to keep his scars hidden with a hoodie (even if it's eighty degrees) and his memories at bay with the help of his loving adoptive parents and Declan. Until he turns eighteen and gets a letter from his father. Then Rev's careful control is disrupted. The memories of his father war with the progress he's made over the last eleven years, and he begins to question his choices, his father, his loyalties, his faith, his life.
Meanwhile, Emma Blue is face deep in the computer game she created and spends most of her time with online friends, building a world that she hopes will maker her game-designing father proud. Her mother will never be proud of her, not as long as she's wasting her time with internet games. But Emma's game is no longer fun, not as she continues to receive threatening messages from a user, and her family falls apart as her parents divorce. Her one solace has been Ethan, an internet friend she's never met. But meeting Rev outside of a church in her neighborhood changes everything.
Here's what I loved: I loved how developed Rev was. He had a unique voice and personality, he struggled with overcoming his trauma, and also struggled with something I think a lot of us secretly fear in some ways: becoming our parent(s). For Rev, he was deeply afraid he'd lose his control and become violent with others. I loved how he was a good friend through and through. Despite his own troubles and inner turmoil, he was never a bad friend to Declan. He never intentionally lashed out his parents. He was himself even when he felt like he wasn't. If I had more pages of just Rev, I'd be so content.
Emma, on the other hand...I wasn't really fond of her character. I did appreciate the realness of her struggle in a male dominated field. Women in technology and in so many other fields of work are expected to overlook behaviors and harassment so that they can continue to succeed. That's a struggle I find to be underrepresented in books, and I wish there had been more development here. Emma doesn't actually solve her problem on her own, doesn't make an effort to overcome the struggle in a real way. She relies on someone else to do it for her, even if it was an accidental resolution. She's also so bound up in herself that she's a bad friend to her real friends in real life. And I get it, I do. People aren't always their best selves or even their regular selves when they're going through the suck. But she's a bad friend without redeeming herself later.
Aside from Emma's character, I felt like the resolutions were rushed for both Rev and Emma. Rev's meeting with his father is anticlimactic. Emma's encounter with her internet friend is predictable the whole time and just...ends. I wish more time had been spent on Rev's confrontation with his father – a huge moment in his life and story – and Emma had resolved her issues herself.
Overall, Rev was my favorite character of the series so far, but the book on a whole falls behind Letters to the Lost.