Book Review

Access Restricted (Word$ #2) by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

Obligatory shout out to Gregory Scott Katsoulis, Harlequin Teen, and Net Galley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’m excited to be writing my first book review for a book I received through Net Galley. I am doubly excited that it happened to be the second book in a series that I have been semi sorta waiting for. It’s the small moments like these folks.

Access Restricted is the second book in Katsoulis’ Word$ series. I read the first,¬†All Rights Reserved, last year for my book club. It was my selection as I had read the synopsis and was instantly intrigued by the story. This was back when I was only posting reviews on Goodreads so if you’re curious how my first experience in this series went you can check out that review HERE.

Spoiler alert: it did not go well.

The first in the series was a let down to say the least, but It wasn’t throw book against the wall bad so I was willing and maybe even a bit eager to read the second installment. This is why I jumped at the chance when I saw it was available through Net Galley. Not wanting to be disappointed a second time I figured a review in exchange for a book was a good route to take.

This story feels a bit jumbled, especially in the beginning. I felt like we were jumping all over the place and I didn’t know what was happening. I was stuck in a strobe light feeling along a wall but ultimately I just ran ahead and hoped for the best. If I had tried to go back each time it felt like it jumped on me I don’t think I would have finished this book. The whole start of the story follows Speth, Margot, Henri, and Kel as they figure out what to do next now that the WiFi is down.

GOOD POINT: I liked finding out that it was only specifically their dome that was taken down, the rest of this horrible world continues they it was in the first book. I have to admit this is a smart way to continue to have conflict in your story. However, I’m not sure if it was me missing it in the first book or if it was something he threw in after the fact in this book, but I don’t remember this being the case at the end of All Rights Reserved. The idea was good, the application was a bit splotchy.

In the end Speth decides to go find her indentured parents at Crab Creek. The group changes as Saretha has to stay behind to heal and Kel remains to see that through. Those that travel are Speth, Margot, Henri, Margot’s little sister, Sera, and Norf-lo. They manage to get out of Portland, find a map that Speth miraculously commits to memory, and then leave the domes entirely.

They are chased, attacked, kidnapped, and some killed along the way. For me personally A LOT of this could have been trimmed down. The writing was haphazard and a lot of the interactions served no purpose for the story. I get that this is a hard thing, as a writer I am also having a hard time following the rule of cutting if it doesn’t progress the story. I just wish Katsoulis’ editor had been more insistent about it. The only part that played a part in furthering the story line was the kidnapping.

GOOD POINT: I liked the addition of Keily (not sure if I’m spelling that right). She was like a second Kel and while I am all for more characters like that it didn’t feel like she was her own separate character from Kel. All we got to see her do was rescue Speth (who should have been left behind honestly) and then she is part of the group that messes with the WiFi at the end. I’m just saying a more developed character that was her own person would have been preferable. Still liked her though.

After this point the group ends up as refugees in what is essentially Mexico and Texas combined. They realize the only way they can stay there is if the United States has broken international law, otherwise they will be released back into the US, directly to the Rogs. They decide that Saretha (Who has joined back up with Speth by now) is the key because of the Carol Amanda Harving fiasco from the first book. We are then taken into a lack luster climax that really leaves me confused. Like is there going to be a third book or is Katsoulis done with this story? The book doesn’t really give any clues to that, aside from the fact that I believe that Henri might make a come back. Who knows.

As far as characters go I could not stand Speth or Saretha. They were the worst and like I said in my review of the first book, I could have done without them completely for this one.

Speth keeps flipping back and forth from “I didn’t want this, I’m no leader.” to “We have to fight and I can lead the charge.” to “I just want to find my family, that’s all that matters.” to “We have to sacrifice people for the greater good.” She was like a fish caught on land flip-flopping around trying to find water to drown in. I literally grumbled at some lines she said in the book. It’s so disappointing to me when a character is not only unrelatable, but super annoying as well.

Saretha – she is pretty much brainwashed to the point of unforgivable. She won’t forgive Speth for Sam’s death in the first book (which I kinda get, but it gets dragged on….) She also talks about how Speth is just straight up ruining everything and nothing will get better and they should have stayed in Portland and become so poor that they become indentured. I’m pretty sure at some point I just yelled at her “Then fucking go back already!”

How do you make the main character so awful and then follow that up with her sister being a twat?

To the writing now – it was definitely a solid effort for a draft I am assuming will not be the final one that gets published. There are things that can be polished over for sure, but I don’t have a real issue with Katsoulis’ writing as a whole. I didn’t notice many grammar mistakes, it was more the consistency of the plot line and the bumpy transitions. I hope that the final draft that will be published gets all those kinks worked out.

I would say if you enjoyed the first, you will most likely enjoy the second.

Expected Publication Date: August 28, 2018.

BAD POINT: The only way for this world to absolutely get to the point that it does is if every single person is so reliant and compliant that they do nothing. Sorry Katsoulis, but humans aren’t made that way. Either a revolt would have happened a lot sooner or it wouldn’t be so damn easy to take this shit down. Pick one.

2 out of 5 Stars

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