Friday, December 26, 2014

In the Afterlight

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

This is the third and final book in a trilogy. I previously reviewed the first book, THE DARKEST MINDS, and the second book, NEVER FADE. If you don't want these first two books to be spoiled, I recommend not reading this blog post.

Disclaimer: Since this is the third and final book in the series, I'm treating all book content as fair game to be discussed. If you want to avoid spoilers about any of these books, I strongly recommend not reading this blog post.

To the amazon summary!

"Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price. 

When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IAAN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

....I really don't even know where to begin with this book.

On one hand, it seems like the author struggled a lot with using all the characters that were created in previous books. The struggle became apparent as they kept playing up the little nuances of a character (like Liam saying 'darlin' and such). That struggle was pretty present throughout the whole book. Moving on.

I'm going to give a bland summary of the entire book (so SPOILERS START NOW) because I want to talk about some specifics in greater detail.

So after most of the kids manage to get out of their collapsing base (see Never Fade), they're on the run trying to get out of the city. Cole & Ruby work together to get all the kids to a different base of the Children's League. Once they do, the kids start rebuilding from relatively nothing; they have their structure set up as far as a roof over their head and the plumbing/wiring working; but food/clothes/cleanliness all need to be established. Regardless, the kids get a little more cheerful now that they've got tasks to focus on.

However, Clancy is dragged along with them and tension runs high between Ruby & Cole as they debate more on more what do with him.

They start rallying the kids behind the goals of freeing the kids from the camps. There's a lot of relationship struggles between Liam and Ruby as they both struggle with all their feelings.

On that note, I started dreading whenever Ruby would think about Liam and then when they actually interacted. There was so much back and forth, no solid emotions one way or another, and they kind of fizzled their relationship into a weird acceptance that didn't make any sense how they got there. All the line face!

I digress too much.

So Liam starts going on raids for food without permission from Ruby & Cole who appointed themselves as leaders.

Ruby spends a lot of her time moping and wondering what to do and trying to cope with her grief, kind of.

They eventually get their act together after some drawn out drama, rescue some kids from a smaller camp. They get some press for it so people know that their kids are alive and not being cured, and try to portray what's really happening in the camps.

Then they get the kids out of Thurmond through an elaborate action filled sequence (which was pretty sweet to read).

The book winds down with the parents coming back for their kids regardless of freaky powers and the world starting to heal even if they don't quite have a cure for IAAN.

Something that really bothered me throughout the book was the writing of the characters seemed really detached from the settings. The world didn't seem overall cohesive; there seemed to be a lot of disconnect between the world events they talked about and how it affected their situation. Then there were other moments where the characters actions had such a direct impact on the world that it was a bit baffling. Eh.

Overall series reaction: I'm still inclined to like the series overall despite some serious pitfalls with the characters and periodic weak writing.

The plot is interesting, but the societal commentary lacks at some pivotal points. There were a lot of times that something would happen and I would be left with a sense of "so what?".

Ruby's character growth seemed to be super stifled in second and third book, where she had a lot of character growth in the first book. I know much of Ruby's character was realizing her own powers and grappling with the horrors of the world....but I still feel like her character fell a little flat a bit too often.

I really enjoyed Chubbs' character, Cole, and Clancy ('s coincidence that all their names start with a C) because they brought different dynamics to the stories. Chubb was a great character to see the 'big picture' of the world and remind Ruby of it periodically. Cole was great to see the struggles of the Red; not only struggling with his powers but also struggling with the expectations and fears surrounding just having pyrokinesis abilities. Clancy was a great constant shadow of what Ruby could become and what she constantly fought against from a morale standpoint. In the first book, the temptation to be like him was strong but she came around once she realized his real story.

I suppose I really enjoyed these books because the different side characters help paint more of a complete story than just Ruby could. Ruby had such a weak grasp on the world because of her time in Thurmond, but through the different side characters she started learning about different aspects. Kind of like how Zu had a lot of hope and kindness even though the world dragged her through hell and back.

...I'm rambling a bit much now. So.

Happy reading!

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