Ascendant is the sequel to the YA fantasy Rampant by author Diana Peterfreund.
As a huge fan of Rampant, I encourage you to read Rampant before spoiling yourself with this review/description of Ascendant. Otherwise, fellow lovers of Rampant, read on:
Astrid is now an experienced unicorn hunter, despite having just been a teenage girl with dreams of the prom not so long ago. Now she's living in Rome with other girls with her talent, and trying to protect the human population from the bloodthirsty breeds of the mythical beast.
But things aren't so awesome. Not that Astrid ever really considered hunting awesome anyway, but now the Cloisters is in a bad financial situation, what with their investor Gordian Pharmaceuticals being crooked and sick and no longer involved, and Astrid's boyfriend Giovanni deciding to go back to school in America.
And then there's the thing about Cory's powers seeming to diminish for no apparent reason.
Then Astrid hits a moment on the field where she isn't so sure she wants to kill a unicorn, where she really wonders if she can keep doing this. Her long held hopes of being a doctor, of going to school, seem so out of reach to her now. So when she gets an opportunity to work on the Remedy and flex her scientific talents instead of her bloody ones, she takes it.
But as Astrid thinks things are taking a turn for the better... are they? Or is she realizing that everything, including her very purpose as a unicorn hunter, is in question?
Oh. My. Goodness.
Sometimes sequels are disappointing (such as, in my personal opinion, The Dead-Tossed Waves), so I wasn't sure what to expect. But - whoa.
Ascendant was heartbreaking, horrifying, and increasingly intense. The character development, new plot twists, and introduction to another species of unicorn kept me completely wowed by Diana Peterfreund's amazing writing ability - she kept me glued. Super-glued. While at the same time, Peterfreund makes me feel so weary for the emotions and pain she invokes in me as I'm reading it, leading me to believe that life would be easier without reading Astrid's journey in Ascendant, but certainly not better off for it. There is a weight to the level of such well-wrought beauty this tale brings.
Its also romantic, mature, funny, and overwhelmingly passionate, while also being somehow believable and crazily relatable. Ascendant is haunting, wildly beautiful, and magically captivating in how attuned, naturally, the reader is able to become with the unicorns, despite their vicious behavior. Peterfreund honestly places me in the difficult position of Astrid and her own personal dilemma.
Then there's the shocking, unexpected turn of events that throws a curve ball I never saw coming and WOWS me. A turn of events that I can't even hint at to you, because I would absolutely hate to ruin it for you. Because you absolutely have to read Ascendant. Maybe you won't be as blown away as I was, but I would be surprised.
Perfect, stunning, superb - these aren't words I throw around without feeling them wholeheartedly - and I feel them wholeheartedly for Ascendant. As I turned that final page (which better not be the final page of the series!), I was head-over-heels and absolutely desperate to know what will happen next in Astrid's story.
Astrid's struggle is full of heart and soul and horror - oh so powerful and utterly, utterly, phenomenal!!!
As you can tell, I liked it. ;)