Reviewed by: Beth
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Note: While this review will spoiler free, it may reference the previous book.
Still trying to recover from the events of four months ago, Millie has left the Arcadia Project and found a job on the same television lot where those events occurred. As she tries to heal and move on, she inadvertently discovers the existence of a being that no one knew existed, and most would deny—even those in the Arcadia Project.
However, those beings are still working on the plot that all assumed was over, and they are seen only when they want to be—after they’ve taken over a human body. To make matters worse, Caryl, Millie’s former boss at the Arcadia Project, has been framed for murder, a convenient way to remove her from her position. Millie needs to convince everyone around her that she’s not any crazier than she was before, while trying to save Caryl and both worlds from destruction. Just another day in the Arcadia Project.
Phantom Pains picks up pretty much right away after Borderline, and the intensity picks up speed pretty quickly. Reading Borderline is not an absolute necessity to reading Phantom Pains, but it is highly recommended—there are a lot of references to the first book that will not make much sense otherwise. Millie is learning more about herself and her limits as a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), particularly as it relates to relationships and her work in and out of the Arcadia Project. She’s also in mourning, and dealing with that is a struggle compounded by her mental illness. Again, Baker has done an amazing job of creating a character that suffers from a mental illness, but refuses to be defined by it. Millie is a strong female character who chooses to define herself on her own terms, while realizing that those terms may be out of the norm because of her BPD. As far as the other characters go, they are written just as well as Millie, most of them strong enough that they could carry their own book. There isn’t a weak character in the bunch, a testament to the strength of their author.
The setting continues to be current-day Los Angeles, and it’s written with the immediacy of one who is familiar with the city. There is also a trip to Arcadia, a place Millie has heard about but never gone before. A place where things are not always what they seem, and yet—in a weird way—even more of what they seem.
It’s not often I pre-order a book, however Borderline was on my list of Top 5 favorites last year, so I bit the bullet and kept my fingers crossed that its sequel would be just as good. Thankfully, it was—and with an ending that I didn’t see coming. Things are about to get even stranger than they already are, and if the first two books are a good indicator, it’ll be a white-knuckle ride all the way.
Sexual Content: None