In near-future Shanghai, a group of teens have their world turned upside down when one of their own is kidnapped in this action-packed follow-up to the “positively chilling” sci-fi thriller Want.
Jason Zhou, his friends, and Daiyu are still recovering from the aftermath of bombing Jin Corp headquarters. But Jin, the ruthless billionaire and Daiyu’s father, is out for blood. When Lingyi goes to Shanghai to help Jany Tsai, a childhood acquaintance in trouble, she doesn’t expect Jin to be involved. And when Jin has Jany murdered and steals the tech she had refused to sell him, Lingyi is the only one who has access to the encrypted info, putting her own life in jeopardy.
Zhou doesn’t hesitate to fly to China to help Iris find Lingyi, even though he’s been estranged from his friends for months. But when Iris tells him he can’t tell Daiyu or trust her, he balks. The reunited group play a treacherous cat and mouse game in the labyrinthine streets of Shanghai, determined on taking back what Jin had stolen.
When Daiyu appears in Shanghai, Zhou is uncertain if it’s to confront him or in support of her father. Jin has proudly announced Daiyu will be by his side for the opening ceremony of Jin Tower, his first “vertical city.” And as hard as Zhou and his friends fight, Jin always gains the upper hand. Is this a game they can survive, much less win?
Warnings: gun violence and shooting; medical emergency
Ruse picks up a few months later after the events of Want – and extends the commentary that was raised in the first book, about privilege and capitalism. Zhou is living with Daiyu among the meis, and is sort of estranged from his friends. They all have been deeply affected by their friend’s death, and have become wary of fighting power. A friend of Lingyi’s asks her help in protecting her invention, leading first her and the rest of them to Shanghai, where they must, once again, fight Jin industries who have stolen the invention, which is a low-cost filter that would ease the air pollution.
The tension between Zhou and his friends stems from his association with Daiyu. While they appreciated her help in the previous book, they don’t entirely trust that she has broken off from her father. And while she has been working to raise money for environmental causes, Daiyu is still very much entangled with Jin industries, and her father tries to use her image to save his company. The plot is high-stakes, much like the previous book, but there is also a heightened sense of danger and grief that drives their actions in this book. As a sequel and a finale in the duology, it wraps up the story arc quite well.
Is it diverse? all PoC cast and Asian setting; bisexual main character in a sapphic relationship
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Simon Pulse, via Edelweiss.
Previous book in the Want duology