Edge of Always falls short of expectations
It’s difficult to begin the sequel of a book when the high expectations from the first novel are still in the back of your mind. And The New York Times best-selling author J.A. Redmerski’s The Edge of Always proves that sometimes it’s often better for readers to abandon any expectations at all, since they usually lead to disappointment.
In The Edge of Always, the sequel to her best-selling novel The Edge of Never, Camryn Bennett and Andrew Parrish pick up right where they left off in the first novel. After dropping out of college, Camryn is now pregnant. Tragedy strikes the two characters, and they decide to go back on the road and sing for money, hoping to live out each moment as if it is their last. And these might very well be their last moments. Camryn is reluctant to let go of the pain she feels over Andrew’s health problems, and Andrew hopes the roadtrip will help them discover what’s next for them, what’s home and what feels right.
The difference between this novel and the previous installment of the series, however, is that the readers feel less of an emotional connection to characters. Redmerski’s sequel to The Edge of Never is missing the development of the first novel. The reader ends up seeing the same characters dealing with the same problems with no character growth or justifiable plot twist whatsoever.
Just as in the first novel, Redmerski tells the story from both points of view, which worked to her advantage. Ever since her debut fantasy series Mayfair Moon, Redmerski proved she knew how to create interesting characters. In The Edge of Always, Redmerski manages to provide adequate insight into the minds of both protagonists without being redundant.
Though deeper character development was not achieved in the sequel, the dialogue between Cameryn and Andrew was one of the highlights of the novel. Fresh and realistic, it’s obvious Redmerski had fun creating scenes between her characters, and it’s comforting to see the characters retain the same charm from the first novel. Uncomfortably, however, Redmerski fails to provide new ideas about the characters.
Therefore, the reader is left disappointed because they cannot achieve the same emotional connection to the material that was forged in the first novel of the series.
The Edge of Always also includes flashbacks from the first novel, which are bittersweet to read. The Edge of Never told an interesting story about two strangers who developed a love for each other with layers of well-connected conflict and character dynamics. The Edge of Always made up a reason for Andrew and Camryn to go on the road again and takes the reader through the same journey as the first novel, only this time there is no conflict or new development in the protagonists’ relationship. The journey, which is essentially the premise of the book, is almost unnecessary. Flashbacks from the first novel, while sometimes interesting to read, only remind the reader how frustrating it is that the sequel does not live up to the original.
This brings up the question of whether the book should have been written at all. Sequels are often hinted at in the end of the first novel by the inclusion of either a cliffhanger or uncertainty in the plot. Though Redmerski attempted the latter, The Edge of Always didn’t have quite the “happy ending” effect that the first did. Camryn and Andrew got their “happily ever after” in the first novel. They really didn’t need another.