(Re)cyler is definitely not the book I expected it to be.
Cycler ended so abruptly and with so little resolution that I expected (Re)cycler to be basically the second half of a novel too long for one volume. I thought it was going to include an “origin story” for Jill (who turns, physically, into her male alter-ego Jack for 4 days a month). I thought, for example, that it might be revealed that Jill’s mom, who has a more-or-less normal relationship with her daughter but real trouble dealing with her “son,” had conducted some sort of awful gene-splicing experiment on Jill/Jack.
Jill and Jack both self-identify as heterosexual but (slight spoiler here for the first novel) they both wind up involved in relationships where their partner’s bisexuality is either stated explicitly or strongly hinted at. Along with a twist on lycanthropy and/or the Jekyll/Hyde paradigm, one potential reading for Jill/Jack’s hermaphroditic nature would be an attempt to resolve feelings of attraction to both sexes by compartmentalizing them, and I thought one, or even both, of Jill/Jack’s love triangles might resolve themselves with a partner who has a relationship with both Jill and Jack.
But (Re)cycler avoids concretely realizing any of those speculations (although it leaves the door open for some of them to be explored in the future). Instead it introduces several new characters, opens up a lot of other possibilities, and leaves many of them unresolved, too. Maybe it’s book two in a projected long-running series, but maybe McLaughlin is just not that big on closure.
Not wanting to wrap everything up neatly is certainly a valid artistic choice, and part of me likes this book a lot for defying my expectations so thoroughly. McLaughlin certainly had me flipping pages at a breakneck pace. But it still leaves me a bit unsatisfied, partly because I still crave answers to all the questions Cycler and (Re)cycler leave unanswered, but mostly because this book is in many respects much tamer, lacking the dark undercurrent that made the first volume so striking.
needs more demons? maybe.