|400 pp. Penguin/NAL Trade.$15.00|
When we left off with the Children of Paranoia series, Maria's lover Joseph had just been killed by one of his best friends while attempting to keep his and Maria's infant son from the clutches of Them, the fighters on the other side of this faceless, nameless war.
In this next installment in the series, Children of the Underground, Maria is on a mission to find her baby, Christopher, and avenge Joseph's death. To do this, she enlists Joseph's childhood friend Michael (his other childhood friend, Jared, is the one who killed him "for the cause.") and The Underground, a group dedicated to "cleaning" persons from both sides of the war who are no longer interested in participating.
This is a great follow-up to the violent, rapid-paced intro to the eponymous Children of Paranoia series. This sequel is sharply-written, the thrill not there for shock value, but tailored, specific, and crafted brilliantly. By mixing the journal format we grew accustomed to in the previous installment with a new, separate perspective (taking place, it turns out, some years later) allows the plot to expand and contract naturally, ridding the plot of the contrived necessity of exposition that its predecessor required.
Like Children of Paranoia, Children of the Underground perfectly sets up the next in the series which will, if the pattern holds, bring us into the present, into Christopher's fight to end the fighting. It is with a Christ-like (or, even, if you will, Harry Potter-like) fashion that Christopher's origins have unfolded. And if Mr. Shane continues to deliver, the remainder of the series should be a pretty impressive ride.