*This review will contain spoilers!*
After reading the first novel in this series, 'The Rain', a couple of days ago, I was apprehensive going into this novel. The premise of the rain killing people was extremely interesting, but I hated the protagonist, so I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about this second novel.
However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. In this second novel, we rejoin Ruby Morris waiting for her father to return to her home after she discovered a message from him in her kitchen at the conclusion of the first book. Ruby is having a bit of a mental breakdown, which she gets startled out of when the church bells of Dartbridge start ringing, the only human contact that she's experienced in the last three or four months.
I'm going to try not to give too much away about this novel, because I know for some people it's highly anticipated, but I will admit that it is a lot better than the first book. If you gave up on the first novel because the protagonist was annoying, you might be impressed by this book - Ruby grows up significantly, dropping the annoying teenager monologues. ...Or, at least she does for the most part. It seems pretty obvious to me that Virginia Bergin CAN write strong female characters, I just don't understand what on Earth possesses her to take one step forward and five steps back. Throughout the majority of the novel, Ruby is mature and level-headed, a massive development from the make-up obsessed airhead from the first book. However, after dealing with blow after blow in an adult fashion, she decides to come face-to-face with her biggest hurdle... and pushes it back time and time again, deciding that instead of rushing in to try and be a hero, she's going to perfect her make-up and dye her hair pink instead, declaring "It was necessary", which it quite obviously wasn't. This character is such a terrible role model, teaching that it doesn't matter if it's the end of the world - you're a girl, so you need to make yourself look flawless for no real reason. That's a terrible lesson in survival!
As a whole, this novel is greatly improved. The plot holes and flaws that feature heavily in the first novel are all explained perfectly, leaving me with a more affectionate feeling for the first novel - it's not riddled with errors, it's riddled with clues that are explained in the future. The book is much more action packed; there's still a lot of moving from place to place but the scenes set in the different areas are definitely attention grabbing. It gets a bit science-y at points, but that gets explained quite well, meaning that it doesn't feel as though it's gone too far over your head - even if you aren't a microbiologist.
There are still issues; an example being that the ending is extremely rushed, with a lot of things left open and the things that are solved being solved insanely quickly. I had to read it twice through, because there was a lot going on (including a monologue from Ruby about what she wished had happened, which got a little mixed in with what was actually going on...) and that can be a positive when it's not too rushed, but it was very overwhelming. I thought that this series was supposed to be a trilogy, so the fact that most things were solved by the end of this book was quite confusing, but if it is a duology that is probably for the best - it's better to go out on a high note than try to deliver too many installations and end up falling flat.
If you read the first book and liked the idea, but just didn't like the execution, I would seriously recommend that you do attempt this second book: the story is very interesting, and the plot is still unique and, quite frankly, a terrifying concept.