Released by S.J. Pajonas – Review

April 2, 2015 Reviews 8 ★★★★

Released by S.J. Pajonas – ReviewReleased by S.J. Pajonas
Series: The Nogiku Series #2
Also in this series: Removed
Published by Onigiri Press on 12/13/13
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult
Pages: 330
Source: The Author
My content rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)
My rating:
4 Stars

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While her city recovers from the devastating earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa's future continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired -- at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With all her friendships rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she's willing. Who is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

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My Take

***NOTE: This review is for the second book in a series and may contain spoilers for Removed, the first book. Click here to read my review of Removed.***

Released is the second book in Pajonas’s unique dystopian Nojiku series. I’ve been loving this series, especially because it’s based on Japanese culture, which I’ve found incredibly interesting. I was happy to see that this second book lives up to the first!

This book picks up right where Removed left off – Sanaa has been left alone out in a house in the desert while Sakai attempts to eliminate the threats to her safety. While this book didn’t have quite as much action as the first, I felt a much greater connection to Sanaa than I did in the first book, so the two books together kind of gave me the best of both worlds. Let me jump straight into my review to explain why …

What I loved:

  • Isolation. This book really focused on Sanaa’s sense of isolation. At the beginning of the book, she is left completely and utterly alone – basically in solitary confinement. Sakai has promised that he will come for her in a month, but when that month goes by and she’s still alone with no contact with anyone, she starts to fear that something has happened and she won’t make it out of her isolation alive. She loses hope (as well as her physical strength from lack of food and exercise). This sets the stage for the rest of the book – where Sanaa is surrounded by people, but still left with a sense of isolation. Jiro is working all of the time, and Sanaa cannot leave her building without an escort. But Sanaa presents a danger to those around her – anyone she loves can be a target for her enemies. This combined with the fact that Sanaa is now going to become the empress (so people feel differently about her) makes people keep their distance from her. I will admit that there were times when I didn’t quite understand how all of Sanaa’s friends and family could abandon her (and I wondered why Jiro had to do all of the work while Sanaa sat home), but the result of this isolation that Sanaa felt was that I connected with Sanaa a lot more than I did in the first book.
  • Connection with Sanaa. In the first book, I had a hard time connecting to Sanaa emotionally, but in this second book, I felt her pain, especially toward the end of the book when things really exploded between her and Jiro’s mother (who has avoided Sanaa for months). I could see how some people might be upset that Sanaa isn’t the strong heroine we want her to be in this second book, but I actually related to her more in this book because she responds much the way I could see myself reacting in her situation. She doesn’t want to cause more problems, especially with Jiro’s mother, so she stays silent about the pain she’s going through. She bottles it up for so long that it eventually explodes!
  • Kentaro. Kentaro is a new character who is introduced in this book who becomes an integral part of the series. At first I was nervous that Kentaro’s introduction was going to be the start of a love triangle, so I was pleased that this was not the case (there were tiny hints of a love triangle – but very small hints). Instead, Kentaro quickly became a character that I loved – and that the characters in the book grew to love and depend on as well!
  • The ending. The ending of this book had me very eager to read the next book. In fact, I was so eager to read it that I jumped straight into book three (and read it in a day)!!

The negatives:

  • Not as much action. This book doesn’t have nearly as much action as the first (or third) book. It’s really all about Sanaa’s internal struggles. For the most part, I didn’t mind that, but I did feel like perhaps Sanaa’s emotional struggles and growth took a bit longer than it needed to. I especially started to get frustrated when Sanaa fretted, for the umpteenth time, over whether or not it was fair to Jiro to expect him to be with her without being able to marry her. I kind of wished that some of the emotional story had happened a little more quickly, but I do understand that Pajonas wanted to make everything build until it got to a bursting point for Sanaa and was completely unbearable. (And book three totally made up for the lack of action in this book – everything is turned completely upside down in the third book!)

Released explored the pain and isolation of leadership and gave us a much deeper insight into Sanaa’s personality. I really appreciated this insight! The ending left me desperate for the next book in the series, so I jumped straight into book three – watch for my review of that one, coming soon!  I give this book 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

SJ PajonasStephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical.

 Author Links:

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8 Responses to “Released by S.J. Pajonas – Review”

    • Nicole

      Yes, that’s the problem with reviews for second books in a series – but it’s still good for people to see how the series is holding up! Book three is even better – definitely my favorite so far!!

    • Nicole

      You’re very welcome! I’ll be posting these reviews to Amazon soon too – I’m bad about waiting until I have a batch of books and then putting them all up at once. 🙂

  1. Lola

    I loved the second book as much as the first, it was sucha rgeat sequel. I also liked seeign the changes in Sanaa and her isolation made for a interesting plot. I really felt sorry for her and I can understand why she didn’t say anything, although that way it always comes out in the end when it becomes too much.
    I also loved Kentaro, he’s a great character and was happy there wasn’t a love triangle. Ah the ending of this book was done really well indeed, although the wait for book 3 was hard, I am happy you could start book 3 right afterwards! Indeed this book has a bit less action, but I do think it fits the book and having this book be more about the internal struggles. I am looking forward to your review of book 3!

    • Nicole

      Yes, I was really glad that I could jump directly into book three. And I don’t have to wait that long for the final book, so that’s even better!

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