Book Review: The Roses of May

This one was a bit disappointing.

The Roses of May is the second book in Hutchison's Collector's Trilogy, and the sort-of, kind-of sequel to The Butterfly Garden, which I read in the spring and really, really enjoyed.

Having read the blurb for this book, I knew it wasn't going to be a sequel in the strictest sense, and I was totally okay with that. Plot-wise, The Butterfly Garden has all the interesting stuff wrapped up, so there wasn't really anywhere new to go without it seeming like overkill. The Roses of May is a sequel in the sense that it follows the same FBI agents we met in The Butterfly Garden and includes bits of post-garden fallout, but it was very clear to me that this second book would be different.

Except that it wasn't.

I'm not talking about the fact that it's another serial killer book. I expected that and it's fine. I'm not talking about another plot twist that failed to surprise, much less intrigue. What really grated on me as I read this book was how similar Priya, the protagonist, was to Maya/Inara, the last book's protagonist. Their voices weren't identical, but their essences were, and it felt almost like a cop-out, like the author wasn't able to write a new character so instead slapped a new name on the old one. Inara makes appearances in this book, by the way, as does Bliss, and their inclusion only hammers home how undifferentiated Priya is. Throw Priya's strong-willed mother into the mix, and we have four female characters who all read very similarly.

What bugged me the most throughout the book, though, was how the male characters kept remarking on how fierce and tough and terrifying the women were. It just felt too heavy-handed. Strong female characters come in many forms, and painting four women with the same brush and then having the men point out how great they are is not the best way to prove your point. I would have liked to see Priya stand alone as her own character, but instead she felt like a weak shadow of Inara.

As far as the plot goes, unfortunately it wasn't that engaging. I knew who the killer was on his first appearance in the story, and the aforementioned plot twist was both unsurprising and unbelievable. My favorite parts of the book were the scenes with the FBI agents, which gave us a better look into their characters. But the main story didn't have any of the magic of The Butterfly Garden.

An okay read, but nothing worth revisiting.