I couldn't say much about books 2 and 3 of the "I Am Margaret" series without risking spoilers for new readers, so I kept my spoiler free review fairly vague. However I know some of my blog readers have already read the series and are probably interested in my more specific thoughts, so here they are!
My spoiler free review of "I Am Margaret"
My spoiler free review of "Three Most Wanted" and "Liberation"
SPOILERS BELOW PICTURE
It's funny, if I had actually looked at the cover of "Three Most Wanted" before reading "I Am Margaret" I would have figured out right away that Jonathan was safe to make it through the first book. But I didn't, and so there was a moment in IAM when I genuinely thought he was dead. Part of this is Turner's great writing, but another part is because I read "Someday" first and knew that Turner had no qualms about killing off characters when necessary. Thankfully, IAM is pure fiction and unlike "Someday" does not have to kill off characters for accuracy's sake. There are still enough deaths in the series to make the stakes real, but not so much that it is too hard to read.
Well, okay, I almost couldn't get through the part where Bane was kidnapped right after the wedding. I was reading this during breakfast, and my husband left for work right before Bane was kidnapped and oh my goodness. I was an emotional mess. That was difficult.
Except that I wondered if Bane really was going to get killed off so that Johnathan could have a chance with Margaret. I know, how awful of me, right? I have to say, I still feel that the weakest link in the story is that we never saw Bane and Margaret falling in love. I think for me I have trouble with the "childhood friends grow up to become sweethearts" because in my observation, when you grow up with someone, you think of them as sibling/playmates rather than romantic interests. If Bane and Margaret had started off platonic and then fallen in love, I think that would have worked better for me because then at least we would have seen it develop. Since we do actually see Jonathan falling in love with Margaret, I (at least) was more connected with that story.
HOWEVER. Stranger things have happened, and honestly it was vital to the plot structure of "IAM" so I understand why Turner made the choice. The love story is an important motivation for both Margaret and Bane, but their romance is not what the story is about. The story is about the choices we make for faith, and the series handles this brilliantly. I really loved every minute of it.
(Although Turner focuses on the Catholic angle, she makes it clear throughout the story that all religions are persecuted under this mandate. I would be very interested in a collection of short stories about the Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Buddist, etc sufferers in this world.)
Perhaps the coolest part of the story is when the Vatican comes into play, and we get to see all of the different religious orders taking various roles as the plot unfolds. Seeing how the Vatican survived as basically a ghetto state, and then how they escape by holding the historical artwork 'hostage' was a pretty brilliant and believable scheme.
I also really loved that Margaret's female hormones came into play. Having her emotions run wild after getting her implant out was so tremendously realistic, and was woven into the story in a way that made it more real, without it seeming (to me, at least) as though Margaret was in any way reduced to "weak female" because of her hormones. Having her chart her cycle is a detail that some readers might find a little squeamish, but to me, made the story all the more solid.
Another part I really loved was the protests. I felt it worked really well, especially with how big protesting has been in our current day and age. Usually in Dystopian Fiction, the EVIL GOVERNMENT will not hesitate to do whatever necessary to maintain their power. However the world of IAM is dependent on a government that became oppressive slowly, with a gradual limitation of freedoms that creepily mirrors our own world today. While I struggled in book 1 to understand how such horrible things could be allowed, book 3 made it more clear. And because the government insisted they were peaceful and making the best decisions for everyone, they couldn't gun down/arrest all the protesters without alienating ALL the populace. Which also felt tremendously real - and hopeful! So I really liked that touch.
One fact that I found interesting was that no one, not once, suggested that Margaret could not marry Bane because he wasn't a Catholic. In my Protestant circles, marrying anyone who doesn't agree with you on fundamental religious doctrine is a BIG DEAL. I briefly dated a non-Christian and that was a major source of contention both externally (with my family) and internally. When I exited that relationship, I knew that I could never again date and certainly not contemplate marrying someone who did not share my religious beliefs. I am not certain if this aspect of Margaret's story is because of the changed world, a difference in Catholic/Protestant doctrine, or an English vs. American thing. I am quite sure that at least one of my Catholic friends will read this blog post and come up with a good explanation. (Hey friends! *waves* got anything for me?)
I continue to really enjoy Turner's ability to use characters with disabilities as her heroes. I CANNOT wait to see what develops with Bane in book 4. There is so much room for drama and character development!
I also hope that book 4 will continue to explain how the many regulations of the European government came to exist. Specifically I hope for more details on how the organ harvesting developed. At this point in the series I can accept that it did develop, but I still have a hard time imagining how. Was it more violently protested at first? How did so many parents over the years willingly give up their 'imperfect' children? How was the idea first presented to the population, and were 'examples' necessary to get everyone to agree peacefully?
Further, I hope to see more details on what the rest of the world is doing during all of this, find a love interest (or vocation) for Jonathan (although I still believe he might end up dying), find out what happened to Margaret's parents, and see Margaret get pregnant (because that would be so epic). I'd also really like to see what other groups or sections of the underground are run by a) people of other religions or b) non-religious who nontheless believe that everyone has the right to freedom of religion. Of course, as an American I would particularly love to see how America has developed during all this, but that is possibly too complicated to explore as a sidenote.
Most of all I just really hope book 4 comes out soon!