The Girl Who Dared to Stand

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Girl Who Dared to Think. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Girl Who Dared to Stand was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is a dystopian science fiction story which follows Liana and her dissident friends as they continue to evade capture within the futuristic city of the Tower. The novel forms the second part of the The Girl Who Dared to Think series, following after The Girl Who Dared to Think (2017) and preceding The Girl Who Dared to Descend (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Lead (2018), The Girl Who Dared to Endure (2018) and The Girl Who Dared to Fight (2018).

Liana and her friends have managed to find a new sanctuary but they do not know how long they can remain hidden. Devon’s sudden attack cost the lives of two of their allies and the survivors have been left feeling bitter and scared. Yet, in a hidden room beneath the Tower, Liana has found something unexpected. A prototype version of the Scipio AI, left abandoned and detached from the mainframe for three hundred years. Suddenly, she realises that they may have a way to fight back.

However, the most important thing is to first ensure that they can move around unnoticed. This means replacing each of their neural nets to ensure they aren’t picked up by any of the Core’s scans. Unfortunately, nets are not easy to come by. Their production is a closely guarded secret and, even with Mercury’s intel, stealing them from within the Core will be unimaginably dangerous.

Although the heist gets off to a good start, things take a downward turn as Maddox is captured by their enemies. Although Liana wants to mount a rescue, her plan is put on hold as she is unexpectedly approached by another faction of rebels. These mysterious individuals have both the power and influence to redeem her name. However, in exchange for their help, they wish for a terrible favour in return…

Before I begin, I just think that I should note that this novel does not really stand alone. The book picks up at the exact point where The Girl Who Dared to Think left off with no preamble. If you’re new to this series, I would certainly recommend starting at the beginning. If you don’t, you’re quickly going to find yourself very lost.

Middle novel syndrome is something that I’ve come across a lot in my reviews. The first instalment of a series is where the author introduces their concepts and characters, but after this they just seem to lose steam. This was certainly the case with The Girl Who Dared to Stand. Although the opening picked up directly from the cliff hanger ending of the first instalment, the novel soon lost its momentum as plot gave way to talking. Lots of talking.

For me, this was the biggest issue of the story. The events of The Girl Who Dared to Think forced Liana into hiding and so we don’t get to see so much of the Tower this time around. While Paragon and the numerical class system previously played heavily into the story, this time it doesn’t really factor into anything. What we get instead are a lot of chapters in which the core protagonists sit around and discuss what they plan to do next. This really slows the story down to a crawl. While there are a couple of exciting scenes – most notably the infiltrations of the Core and the Medica – these are unfortunately few and far between.

In terms of plot, The Girl Who Dared to Stand is also a bit muddled. While a few new factions emerge, all seemingly vying for control over the Tower, the novel is a bit vague as to what their motives are. All we really get in this story are hypothesises. The characters discuss at length what they think the Legacies are and whether Prometheus can possibly still exist, but nothing is really confirmed on page. In fact, we don’t really learn a lot at all. While new ideas and concepts certainly emerge in this novel, they don’t really develop despite being repeated over and over.

In terms of structure, the novel was pretty easy to read on the whole and, despite the repetition, I never felt bored. However, its overly simplistic style did annoy me at times. I believe that I mentioned this in my previous review but, were it not for the fact that the reader is told that Liana is twenty, I would have assumed that she was about fourteen. She seems very childish and even gets flustered about the thought of sleeping next to her boyfriend.

My other issue was that I sometimes found the action a bit hard to follow. This is a fault with Forrest’s first-personal dialogue, as its not very descriptive and so did not lend itself well to the faster paced scenes. I found this especially hard to follow in the climatic fight at the Medica, which featured a couple of unnamed characters who were purely acknowledged based on vague physical characteristics.

The novel also did not end well. As with The Girl Who Dared to Think, the story broke off on an incredibly sudden cliff hanger which left the story feeling unfinished. This is very much a personal bugbear of mine but I much prefer instalments to have some degree of closure. It always feels cheap to me for a story to leave the fates of its characters in the air. It’s almost like forcing the reader to purchase additional content.

The Girl Who Dared to Stand is probably strongest in terms of character, as all of the core cast are at least distinct. As a lot of them were not introduced until very late in the first instalment, this time they are given a lot more time to develop. This is particularly true of Maddox and Quess, both of whom play a major role in this story. I also very much liked the addition of Leo – an ancient AI – as he made me curious to learn more about the time before the Tower. However, I did find his unwillingness to impart information a bit frustrating. As he clearly knows a lot more than he was letting on, it felt largely like plot contrivance that he would not share this with Liana.

Liana is still a strong protagonist but I did get a bit annoyed at how easily she is selected as the leader of the rebels. She has only known them for two minutes before they declare that she has all the qualities that they are looking for. While the previous book went to great lengths to show that she is not a chosen one, it did feel as though she was slipping into this category. It was also always frustrating how fixated she was on romantic entanglements. Although her friends are facing the prospect of discovery and death, she frequently becomes preoccupied with her relationship with Grey (and the fact that Quess is rapidly forming a love triangle between Zoe and Eric). Seriously, there is a time and place for everything…

Anyhow, I’ve probably rambled for long enough. The Girl Who Dared to Stand was certainly readable but I did not enjoy it as much as the previous book. The plot and characters had some pretty major flaws and the story didn’t seem to really be going anywhere fast. While I am still curious enough to continue with this series, I’m in no real hurry to.

The Girl Who Dared to Stand can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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