Top critical review
Kane And Ziggie's Dark Story
July 22, 2019
This is this second book in this series. Because it is almost entirely a flashback from five years earlier, it is possible to read this without first having read The Hunter's Game (book one).
The last book leaves off with Hunter and Clover somewhat committing to a tenuous relationship, but Clover demands an explanation for what happened at the Church next door. Hunter explains that it is not his story to tell, but he reluctantly agrees to contact the person whose story is in question, and his old best friend Kane arrives along with a girl named Ziggie.
This book opens up with both couples settling down in the living room, where Kane's story opens up. Although Hunter claims to be starting off the story, it is told entirely from Kane and Ziggie's POVs. This is their story, but it also involves another couple - Hunter and MJ. It therefore allows the reader to glean parts of Hunter's background, too (from book one).
Ziggie, supposedly nineteen, has been raised by Jehovah's witnesses and feels stifled. She decides to run away to be with Andrew, whom she met on an app one year earlier. He has promised to marry her. When she arrives in his town at the bus stop, she is unable to reach him.
Kane is roughly thirty-ish and has a shady background, although he tries to do the right thing these days. It appears that he took more than his fair share of the blame for something in the past, and he needs to stay away from cops. He has been on a grow-op farm for a few years, where he has been welcomed in spite of his background. Hunter has been with him on the farm for about one year. Before working on the farm together, Hunter had bought his drugs from Kade, and their relationship goes back two years.
The first half of this book moves slowly - much more slowly than necesssry. Kane is tasked to recruit girls to help during the harvest, and Ziggie arrives in town looking for Andrew. Kane and Hunter recruit Kane's friend MJ, who hits it off with Hunter. Ziggie joins them in the hopes that her Andrew is at their farm. After the girls arrive, Kane quickly becomes paranoid that there is an ulterior motive for recruiting the girls and tries but fails to return them to town. During this time, Hunter and MJ are openly into one another, while Kane and Ziggie build chemistry in spite of themselves. This is interlaced with lots of recreational drug use.
Midway through it becomes obvious that Kane was right to be worried. He and Hunter work to save the girls, while the girls try to survive, but even then there is a lot of drug use. There are scenes that include rape. Desperate for help, Kane revisits his past.
It feels unrealistic that Kane would put his friends Wes and Luke under the bus and in danger when they had been granted permission to leave the farm. This instance is never revisited, and given Colby's strange behavior (discussed below), it is impossible to presume anything. Jealous or not, Kane's head was focused on getting the girls out, so why wouldn't he also be happy to see his innocent and unsuspecting friends leave?
Although there are certainly arguments that could be made that explain why Colby keeps letting Kane near the girls, those arguments aren't effectively made. Given some of his actions, Kane shouldn't be trusted. It would have felt more real if Colby did a better job of explaining all of this to Kane - and not just once, but each time Kane's behavior is questionable.
Related to this, it seems impossible that most of the grow-op men aren't aware of the situation with the girls given their disappearance and the extra activity. All those present and not in the know are a risk to Colby's operation! It is stated later that if the cops arrive there wouldn't be a problem, but then why are Wes and Luke brought back? Yet later Kane and Hunter let go! The reasoning feels fluid.
The Father's character is difficult to understand and consequently feels slighlt two dimensional. His motivations and choices are confusing and sometimes feel contradictory. Why he allows Kane and Hunter to enter the Farm at all is unclear. As to Ziggie, he doesn't want her touched, yet she is treated so badly.
Finally, like in The Hunter's Game, Hunter's timeline is very confusing. Rather than clearing up any questions from the last book, there are more unclear or contradictory statements made.
Overall, this is a very dark story. I would rate it 3.5 stars if possible. It could have been considerably shorter and tighter. Kane and Ziggie are both tortured souls and it is easy to root for them. They do not get a traditional happy ending, but the story continues so there is hope for that yet. Learning more about Hunter's past is eye-opening and explains a great deal. The story ends with the expectation that the Father will be calling on them soon.