This book was about as subtle as getting hit in the face with a brick. Nothing was handled with tact or skill or any amount of nuance. Badass character is an orphan? Well she's not JUST an orphan, oh no, she's got a history of child abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug abuse, really just every kind of abuse you can imagine. Because being an orphan isn't sad ENOUGH, nope, we've got to make sure that there's not one single, solitary piece of comfort anywhere in her life. Balls-to-the-wall angst, people. Religion replaced by a so-called secular Church? Well, that's not obvious enough, we've got to make it absolutely, unequivocally clear that this new Church is hypocritical. Like, full-on Inquisition era insanity and total control over the government and everything. And totally not secular and completely missing the definition of 'faith.' "You don't need faith because there are no gods! Now, believe us when he declare acts to be moral or immoral, or else you'll go to hell. Proof? Psh. We say it's the truth, you believe, but don't worry that doesn't count as 'faith!'" Not painful enough? Don't worry, here's a few pseudo bible verses to hammer it home.So much of this world just wasn't handled well. We're told that ghosts suddenly popped up 23 years ago because...hey, they just popped up, and so did magic. Reasons be damned. Chess is a drug addict who never gets affected by her drugs. Seriously, this chick will pop pills and snort lines at least once a chapter, usually two or three times, and she'll go days without sleeping or eating, and absolutely none of this has any effect on her thoughts, decisions, actions, or feelings. She runs around just like any sober character, with very little variance between coked-out-of-her-skill and near-sober. It's like the book couldn't actually make her ACT high, so it substituted in lots of snorting scenes to remind us that she's an addict. Since it's so easy to forget otherwise.I really wanted to like this. I really did. There's some good stuff buried in the mess. But it was just a chore to slog through, and the good parts couldn't carry me through the rest of the annoyance.