5 raw Stars
“’Does it hurt you?’ Ashleigh asks, her eyes trained on me.
I let out a long breath.
“Yeah, it fucking hurts…I can stop it from hurting. It only takes a second, but my brain is wired wrong. Everything hurts until I tell it not to.’”
This quote was the defining moment for me in this book. I know there are other moments that some would argue are a lot more profound for Ford and Ashleigh individually and together, but for me? This is it.
This is Ford confirming what I’ve always expected – he is not the cold, unfeeling man he allows others to think he is, instead, he’s an exposed, raw nerve all the time. Which is why he has to shut it down, otherwise all there is, is pain. The world eats people who feel, incorporate and sense the world around them that deeply, for breakfast. Ford learns this from an extremely early age – every time the professionals who should have been able to understand him, every time the doctors couldn’t relate, every time eyes clouded over with confusion – proved to him that he was in this alone. So he learned to shut it down.
When Ashleigh first entered the story, I thought for sure she would just be the one to see Ford through his shifting relationship with Rook. I never in a million years expected them to actually connect. I never expected to even like Ashleigh and I’m still not even sure I do, to be completely honest, except that it sure is fun to watch her give Ford a run for his money. While I may not adore her character, I love to watch what she brings out of Ford. I love that she gives him permission to be exactly who he is, all the time. And I love to watch him try for her, to re-open parts of himself because he’s finally met someone who can take it.
JA Huss does something exceptionally well with this series – regardless of how large or small of a role each character has to play in the overall story, if she is writing them, they are evolving. And that is bloody brilliant because not only does that allow for huge opportunities within the storytelling itself, but it also allows readers to continually bond and grow with the characters. Every time someone picks up one of these books their investment in the series, and in the author’s work overall, only deepens. And that is the most masterful of storytelling.
I could wax poetic for days about the insanity that is Huss’ writing – how incredibly poignant it is, how she shapes scenes and responses to those scenes with intense precision, how every book wagers a little more until the reader is willingly going all in.
Huss’ writing is like getting sucker punched by Muhammed Ali – it really fucking hurts and you’ll be bragging about it for days.