CM . . .
Volume XIX Number 4. . . .September 28, 2012
In Rage Within, a sequel to Dark Inside, readers return to the apocalyptic world of Aries, Mason, Michael, Clementine, Daniel, and " Nothing" as they struggle to survive. The teenagers are among the few survivors who have not turned into rage-filled murderers called Baggers. While the teenagers seek out others like them and begin to find food, shelter, and a small community in Vancouver, the Baggers have also become more organized as they continue to destroy those who they consider useless, and enslave those who may contribute to the new world order. Alliances are forged, leaders emerge, and decisions beyond initial survival prove to be complex.
Similar to Dark Inside, Rage Within is not a book for the fainthearted as the violence is stark and graphic. What is different in the sequel is the focus on relationships rather than the individual, but in this new world, relationships are both a weakness and a strength. Clementine and Michael develop feelings for each other that lead to a critical error on Michael's part as he seeks to bring Clementine the one thing that she is living for. Aries is drawn to both Mason and Daniel, but, unknown to her, the two have their own reasons to depend on each other and reasons to maintain their distance from Aries. When the Baggers capture Mason and Daniel, their feelings for Aries are used against them.
The ideas of good and evil are played with throughout the book. Some of the Baggers seem to have moments of lucidity, and the identity of "nothing" is revealed through the internal struggle against the dark thoughts and actions of Baggers. Some of those that have remained " normal" still have the less than attractive characteristics of laziness, selfishness, and arrogance. The characters discover that relying on black veined eyes as the indication of an evil Bagger is not necessarily a clear-cut decision. Even the tentative explanation for the apocalypse as a natural reset to rid the world of the damage-causing humans and allow nature to take back the earth suggests that all humans have contributed to the destruction of the world. Innocence and goodness are on a continuum, and the characters must decide where they place themselves and others.
The multiple perspective format that Roberts developed in the first book remains a strong storytelling device in this well-written sequel. Each character has a clear voice that is consistent with their actions. The teenagers have their own ways of dealing with the past and moving on in this new reality. Some strong secondary characters that do not tell their own story are still able to emerge in this format: the injured Jack, and the chemistry major Raj who complicate the ideas of trust and responsibility. Roberts' choosing to set this sequel at Christmas amplifies the changes that the characters have gone through in the last few months.
Similar to Dark Inside, there are some final moments of hopefulness, and yet the whole picture continues to be hopeless as readers come to the end of the second book. It will be interesting to see how Roberts deals with this in the third book. While closure would be nice, I can't see a happy ending in sight, and I trust that Roberts will complicate things even more. As I said in the review of the first book, this is not for the faint of heart, and the cover of Rage Within suggests that reader discretion is advised.
Karen Boyd is a doctoral candidate in language and literacy and an instructor in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.