Series: Killer Unicorns #2
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Now a fully trained unicorn hunter, Astrid Llewelyn is learning that she can’t solve all her problems with a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend has left Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend’s powers are mysteriously disintegrating, and her hope of becoming a scientist seems to be nothing but an impossible dream.
So when she’s given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and use her skills as part of a scientific quest to discover the Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants—or can she? At Gordian headquarters deep in France, Astrid begins to question everything she had believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and—most of all—her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns or saving unicorns from the world?
Whereas the first book in the series, Rampant, was all about Astrid going to Italy to train to be a unicorn hunter and hunting killer unicorns, Ascendant offers a different perspective. Astrid was finally a full-fledged hunter but she felt discontented with her life. She once had dreams of becoming a doctor but now she's pretty much just a high school drop-out and with her boyfriend Giovanni having left Rome, there was nothing to keep her in Italy. When the opportunity to leave the Cloister came up, Astrid jumped at the chance. She ended up working for Isabeau Jaeger who needed a unicorn hunter to "guard" the confined einhorns (a breed of unicorn) she kept as test subjects in the effort to discover the Remedy. For a while, Astrid was finally content: she has a mother she never had in Isabeau, she wasn't hunting unicorns day after day and she can finally use her scientific skills to find the secret of the Remedy. But Astrid soon finds that a long distance relationship with Giovanni wasn't easy, her loyalty to the Cloisters was tested and circumstances forces her to figure out what it truly means to be a unicorn hunter.
I have mixed feelings about this book but I still liked Astrid's character. She was still strong, smart and resilient but she was also very human. She stumbled a few times in this book and had to learn from her mistakes. It was also nice to revisit the secondary characters like Cory and Phil and the other hunters and I liked the complexities in Astrid's relationship with Isabeau and the captive einhorns. There were a lot of great inner conflict in Astrid's part and a few heart-rending scenes involving her and the einhorns. There was also great discussion on the pros and cons of animal testing and saving the unicorns (or animals that are a menace to society) versus killing them to extinction and the sex and virginity issue was touched upon again in this book. However, I thought Ascendant had a different feel from Rampant--not as many blood and guts scenes, it was a slower read and the questions I had after reading the first book weren't really answered in this one. At the end of this book, more questions arose and there were a few unresolved subplots. Also, like in the first book I thought some parts dragged and the last few chapters were a bit rushed.
Despite my mixed feelings, I think this book is worth checking out especially if you read Rampant as there were some unexpected plot twists in this book. I am definitely planning on reading the third book to see how the series will conclude. 3.5 out of 5 stars
Check out my review of Rampant, the first book in the Killer Unicorn series.