Author: Diana Peterfreund
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Genre: Teen/YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this sequel to Rampant, Astrid is still living with her fellow unicorn hunters in Rome, but she is beginning to question her mission. Is it really necessary to kill the unicorns, or can she find a way for unicorns and humans to live in peace?
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first book in Diana Peterfreund’s Killer Unicorns series, Rampant, so I was very excited to pick up its sequel, Ascendant. Ascendant starts right where Rampant left off, and plunges the reader right back into the trademark action and thrills of the first book.
Ascendant is one book that definitely does not suffer from the trademark middle book syndrome (the Killer Unicorns series is supposed to be a trilogy). Though it is necessary to read Rampant first in order to understand what is going on and the mythology behind the books, Ascendant is a book that really can stand on its own two feet. At the center of the novel is Astrid’s personal journey and her coming into her own. Though she loves her unicorn hunting powers, she dislikes her work less and less as every day goes by. She wonders if there is some way to protect unicorns and regular humans from each other, rather than having to kill the unicorns.
Astrid’s moral and ethical questions are at the center of this novel. After all, there are plenty of deadly animals that are allowed to live in peace - why should unicorns be any different? They are an endangered species after all. Can humans and unicorns coexist, and if they can, what does that say about what Astrid has been doing? Astrid begins to see the unicorns as more than just bloodthirsty mongrels intent on killing humans, and she is forced to reevaluate everything she knows because of that.
Peterfreund takes a daring leap about halfway through the book with Astrid’s character, and I really appreciated it. It’s nice when authors take chances with their beloved characters, rather than leaving them stagnant because that’s what the readers have come to know. It ensures that this series stays fresh and new.
Ascendant is a complicated and introspective book that really surprised me with its depth. This is really a great series and I’m so glad I’ve read them. It’s going to be a long wait until the third book in the series, but I highly recommend readers take the time to catch up on the first two books, if you haven’t already!