Rachel E. Kelly’s second installment in her ambitious Colorworld novel series, Teleworld, picks up almost where the first one left off: A few months have gone by, and Wendy and Gabriel work to negotiate their fledgling engagement while Wen continues to struggle with her death touch. Her Uncle Robert provides stability for the young woman and her brother, Ezra, but it’s a little strange that he’s the one person Wendy finds hard to read emotionally. Is it because he’s just naturally less volatile and more guarded, or is there something more sinister about Robert’s reasons for avoiding Wen’s emodar? However, with a sudden wedding, our protagonist is more concerned about learning to be a wife, getting to know her husband better, and finding a way to belong to a warm, welcoming extended family without dropping her guard enough to accidentally kill someone.
Teleworld focuses more on emotional and personal growth than its prequel, Colorworld, and while it continues the narrative about Wendy’s strange superhuman abilities, I feel that it is more a character piece than an action one. The crux of the conflict is how Gabriel and Wendy can love each other deeply but struggle to understand one another due to personalities, lack of knowledge of one another thanks to their whirlwind dating/courtship, and how each of them tries to handle the reality of Wendy’s deadly ability. As a result, my criticisms over Wen and Gabriel’s relationship in Book 1 faded away in Book 2. Love is not presented as a magical remedy for everything, and marriage/couplehood is treated realistically. (I have it on good authority that some aspects of Wen/Gabriel’s marriage and relationship are based on the author’s experiences!) Good bonds take work, and Kelly details a narrative showing how even a most extraordinary pair doesn’t have it easy when it comes to building a solid foundation together. Gabriel’s family also adds to the cast, and I think I’d like to clone his mother to take care of me!
Because the plot centers on Wendy’s growth, Teleworld doesn’t feel as fast paced as Colorworld, but everything helps to move the characters forward. Important discoveries are made, and I believe readers need to see Gabriel and Wen’s connection transform into something better and stronger over the course of the book. I often prefer character-driven stories, so I responded extremely well to Teleworld (lots of reading done over my lunch break while anxiously watching the clock, hoping I’d have time for another chapter), but I recognize that some readers prefer more action. This installment definitely adds some key things to the overarching storyline, though, so it’s not all introspection and navel gazing.
My only small complaints about Teleworld fall directly in the realm of niggly nitpicks from someone who knows way too much about the topic. I have a B.A. in Spanish, so some of the usage in Teleworld jumped out at me as being a) misspelled or b) not grammatically correct. If you do not speak Spanish, these will flow over you without any break in the story, and, honestly, you will probably understand Wen’s frustration with Gabriel’s multi-linguistic capabilities more deeply if you don’t follow it! Second, there are several references to Hispanic influence or people in the text that aren’t entirely correct. Using Hispanic to describe food items, etc., probably is okay, but many individuals prefer the term Latin@, simply because it acknowledges the native roots of many people from Central and South America and the Caribbean, rather than making it sound like they all have Spanish-European roots. Again, I only know this from my studies, and it doesn’t affect the narrative in any way.
I adored Teleworld, and I’ve struggled with not starting the third book in the series before writing this review to avoid muddling my thoughts. The central characters, Wen and Gabriel, have crossed their Rubicon, and the fallout will almost certainly be tremendous. I can’t wait to see what Kelly introduces next after seeing how deftly she dealt with the necessary issues in this one!
5 Beautifully Crafted Ribbon Skies out of 5