Oh my . . . oh my god. I can't even form coherent thoughts right now. I probably should wait at least a day before I review this book just so I can actually think. Because the first book was driven, focused, a beautiful telling, but the second book is where Patrick Ness's genius absolutely leaps off the page and grabs you. All those plot twists, character arcs, the meticulous planning of events, they could only be thought up by a genius. I've decided. Ness is a genius. A masterful storyteller. He knows how leave readers dying for the next page, how to make his characters and relationships fester in one's mind until they have to pick the book back up again. He knows people, too. Real people, not just characters slapped on a page. These are real, breathing people with minds and personalities of their own as complex as people I know (heck, even more so). What would this character do in this situation? It seems as if most writers put down what THEY want the character to do to further the plot. What Ness does is listen to the character. These are all actions of the characters, not the writer. I rarely ever see this done well. Perfect, actually. I can't praise this book highly enough. It made me feel every emotion, and not just feel it, suffer it. This book is TERRIBLY traumatic. I might have been screaming as I was reading it and freaking out those around me. The manipulation, the thought processes, they were all so traumatic because they were so believable and well-written. I'd also like to point out the absolute flawlessness of Viola and Todd's relationship. It's not even something easily explained, because it, like the characters themselves, is complex and so, so very genuine. Again, this man is a genius. A storytelling genius. I know I'm gushing, but I can't seem to stop. This trilogy gets inside my head and I can't think of anything else. One of my favorite books, hands down. I don't think I'll ever get over it.