* Please note that I have read both versions of Evenfall and the following review reflects that perspective.
Not Flawless …
The POV of one of the best written and much needed unbiased narrators shockingly didn't make the Director's Cut. Typos, grammatical flubs, plot holes and sentence construction issues still abound. Personally I found Hsin’s POV gave too much away and negated the depth of his mysterious and dangerous aura that drew me in to the story originally. The UST was replaced with steaminess - it will be subjective if this is a flaw or not. And unfortunately it appears that an attempt to enhance memorable personality characteristics of the secondary characters, has resulted in them as reading more one dimensional. My hopes of this DC version reflecting the grittiness and world building as well as Hassell’s After Midnight (they are set in the same world during the same time frame) were crushed - this series still reads very YA and contemporary to me.
That being said ...
Hsin is still hot as f*** - and there is more from his POV. You will still root for (and at times want to rescue) Boyd - and his rambles have been silenced. All the lovable characters you fell for in the original version made the casting cut. The missions read much more fluidly and balance better with the relationship arc in the story arc. The pace of the relationship is accelerated. In essence, what made the original version of ICoS such a hit and regarded with adoration for so many readers - the characters and their relationship - are inherent to both versions and their development executed as thoroughly.
This "Director's Cut" feels less like a well edited and polished version and more like a condensed work in progress. The authors duly note that they are not editors and that flaws remain in this version, on the first page in the "Just a Note" section, so don't be misguided as what to expect when seeing the "Director's Cut" badge slapped on it. But what made the original version enjoyable also makes the DC version enjoyable.
New readers to the series will appreciate the ability to experience the ICoS phenomenon without devoting every ounce of their spare time to it. I am interested to see how Boyd reads for those new to this series. Though I am happy his ramblings have been curbed, some of the insight that I personally found pertinent in explaining many of his motives for his actions was removed. In the new version I often found it hard to reconcile Boyd’s motives (or mental state) with his actions and to me this weakened his character. I venture that in the original where Boyd came off as quite young and his actions were often attributed to the consequence of being immature and inexperienced, in the new version he read much more emotionally volatile and unstable. Also, with so much of Boyd’s POV in the original and less of Hsin’s POV, I found I had fallen in love with Hsin through Boyd’s eyes. However, the Director’s Cut makes me feel much more of an outside observer to their relationship. Despite these niggles for me, I do believe new readers of the series will experience the same inherent feelings that the original aroused and will feel sated by the condensed version as much as they would have been by the original.
As someone who has read the original and loved it and expected the DC version to be a polished work it is disappointing to see the grammatical and some content issues left unaddressed. The new content they added and arc changes made don't derail the intrinsic appeal to the series, but it is like looking at a picture you have stared at a hundred times through clear lenses and now suddenly looking at it through colored lenses - there will be the camp that prefers the unfiltered view and the camp who prefer the colored spin. I still enjoyed my time with Hsin and Boyd for round two, but I view the DC version as more of a condensed work still in progress rather than an edited polished work and for me that is disappointing.
The cast is the key to the series …
I heart Hsin just as much after reading the Director’s Cut as I did the original. The characters are five star characters, but in need of a professional editor to rescue them from a three star manuscript. The new version is still flawed, there are some content changes for better or worse, but I can’t stress enough that this series continues to feature my favorite cast of characters. The story arc, writing and even relationship pacing are not without their flaws - but the characters are so wonderfully flawed they are perfect.