Part-Time Gods by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: DFZ (Book 2 of 3)
Genre: Urban fantasy
Published: 11th June 2019 (Aaron/Bach, self-published)
Rachel Aaron’s talent in creating effortlessly enjoyable and engaging character-driven stories with fascinating worldbuilding is yet again evident in Part-Time Gods, the second book in the DFZ trilogy.
I probably sound like a broken record by now, but Rachel Aaron is my go-to author whenever I needed a pick-me-up. There is just something inherently comfortable and engaging about her writing and her stories that allow me to immerse myself into an intriguing world with its compelling characters right from the start, and it doesn’t let go until the end. I’ve pretty much devoured every single book she’s written in no more than 2 to 3 sittings and over a couple of days at the most, depending on the length. As Part-Time Gods is not a long book, by fantasy standards, I finished this in a day. And it was a great sequel.
The story of Opal continues with her curse plaguing her every move, the partnership with Nik notwithstanding. The plot in this sequel focussed on Opal doggedly determined to find any possible method of countering and working around the curse to gain freedom from her father. I have to say that Opal did get on my nerves quite a bit in this instalment, despite understanding her predicament and the reasons behind her persistence. Meanwhile, I was delighted when a visit to the chaotic Rentfree district sparked some revelations surrounding the deliciously mysterious and badass Nik. True to Aaron’s promise, we did get more of Nik, but I still want more.
Now, the characterisation remains excellent in spite of what I said about being annoyed with Opal. She is a compelling character. The reason for my annoyance was because she is a likeable person, one who I can see myself befriending, but her stubbornness rivalled that of her obstinate father. It was a tug of war of draconic proportions and consequences where I feel sympathy for one and empathy for another.
Have you ever read a book where an element of the worldbuilding itself can be considered as a character? Then let me tell you that the city of DFZ is, in my opinion, the best character in this trilogy. The Rentfree district that I mentioned above was one of the craziest things I’ve ever read. Just imagine that you can live in an area for free or however little you can afford to pay, hence the name, but the buildings are constantly shifting around subject to the whims of the city (yes, you read that right). You’ll never know when you will need to evict yourself to the next available place, but it will happen for certain. The atmosphere just screams seedy, chaotic, and discordantly vibrant. Those who have read the Heartstrikers series will know what the DFZ has become, and the development of the city since then had been astounding. It pained me not to mention too much about it as I do not want to spoil readers who have not read Heartstrikers. As far as worldbuilding is concerned, this has one of urban fantasy’s finest.
Speaking of Heartstrikers, we finally had the long-awaited cameo appearances of well-loved characters from the prior series. These characters had been so well-established that they felt so true to the ones whom we knew and loved, even in the several pages where they appeared. I had this feeling of exuberant joy and wistful nostalgia all at once.
The pacing of these books had been remarkable, giving readers just the right blend of humour, tension, action and contemplative moments to make it a fun and absorbing read. The narrative maintains a steady forward momentum either with progressing with some development around the characters, the worldbuilding or the plot. The ending of Part-Time Gods seemed rather abrupt, and while it was not exactly a cliffhanger, it did leave me feeling a bit on edge about the implications of the events that transpired in the final chapter. The next book is going to be really intense and exciting, and I can’t wait to read it.