What in the Hizzle???

The Warrior  - Victoria Scott

I was different then. Dare I say I was a douchebag?I dare not.I've always been awesome.
Even if I was a self-centered dick, I was an awesome self-centered dick.

The handful of friends I had when I read The Collector can attest to my Dante Walker fangirl status. I think I may have inadvertently shoved that one down a couple of throats here on GR none too gently. I'm still not sorry, by the way. He's easily one of the most entertaining heroes out there. His insults and insights, his POW! so indelible to his character, I'd imagine it as iconoclastic as "bitch" is to Aaron Paul.

Boy's got swag for days, indubitably.

Which is why writing about The Warrior is nearly, if not more, as heartbreaking as reading it was for me.

I've made allowances and excuses for The Liberator. Perhaps its the biggest testament of my love of everything Dante Walker but I figured it was my insurmountable expectations' fault and not the actual direction the series took with the introduction of Aspen in the storyline.

As it turns out, it really WAS the story's fault. And it got exponentially worse in its chaotic conclusion. 

My biggest issue is a complication of this series' greatest strength: Dante Walker. He's still working the ADD, snarky arrogance but I appreciated his more layered portrayal of the conflicted bad boy gone good persona here. I like that some attention given his trust issues with his new Boss Man was a logical progression to his history with his parents. His need to trust and be trusted was very apparent for me and quite touching. 

But I really felt the charm of his character was spread way too thin in all the moving parts of this busy storyline. He's just involved in everything:

1. Protecting Charlie

2. Retrieving Aspen

3. Unlocking the Mystery of the Scrolls with Oswald

4. Resolving his inner moral turmoil

5. Concerning himself with Anabelle, Kraven and Paine waltzing around each other

6. Worrying about Max and Valery's relationship issues

7. Devising a Strategy to defeat the sirens and the collectors trying to attack The Hive

8. Finding the traitor among the (what felt like) sixty thousand people living in The Hive

And so on. Mind you, each item on that list branches out to some smaller detailed task that needs to be Dantefied. I felt a few chapters from Charlie's, Max's and even Kraven's perspective would've improved the narrative better, keeping Dante's juvenile thoughts from sounding stale. 
Charlie inspects her palms, and I inspect her purple skirt. Nothing gets me going like a skirt. Or bacon. Or any sliver of skin on any part of Charlie's body. Jaysus, she's just so innocent. Makes me want to ravage her with my darkness, and I know just how disturbing that sounds.

From hands to skirt to bacon to sex. 
In moderation, it's cute. Relentless, it can be toxic. 
I love Dante, but no amount of his Pows and Hugh Hefner quips could sustain my interest for a story so busy as this one.

And boy was this book busy. Like rush hour on the day before the beginning of a three-day holiday weekend kind of busy. There are about close to twenty characters involved in this book. Twenty characters who, I imagine, are frantically tying loose ends and cover gaping plot holes to keep this ship afloat, trying to dock to some semblance of an ever after. This led to repetitive sequences and exchanges that this could very well be a drinking game of sorts: 

Every time someone says "I want to show you something" take one shot.

Every time a scene gets interrupted by a scream, take two shots.

Every time Dante moons over any aspect of Charlie's perfection take three shots.

I still take issue on the existence of Aspen as a character. Her place in the story still feels forced. She's like that girl who got the job because her dad is golf buddies with the department manager. I have no idea why she's even here when her role could've been better filled by Annabelle who got relegated to some token piece in a love triangle I give no two shits about. Kraven or Paine? Paine or Kraven?

The mystery behind the scrolls felt a little too convenient an excuse to fit in all these characters. Not to mention the awkwardly simplistic way the prophecies have been phrased which were almost as painfully awkward as Dante's histrionic turns of phrases: "I hold her tighter, confiscating her body's warmth", "She's my moon, I've plucked her from the sky" thrown in with a healthy serving of indulgent personification.
I clutch the wrists as best I can but my brain is shutting down. 'I need oxygen!' it says.
"No," I tell it.
'Then goodnight.'

I did like how things ended and how most of our protagonists fared in the aftermath . But I would've traded the whole scrolls storyline for more Shit Head/Dante moments without question. 

I wish I was the sort of reader who can blindly love and follow a hero whichever direction his story gets steered. Because if there's any character I'd willingly do that for, it will be Dante Walker. Unfortunately, the experience offered by The Warriorwas just too unpleasant to overlook, the moments of brilliance too few and far in between to bid a beloved character with anything but a disappointed farewell.

ARC provided by the publishers.