Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

*** This is the third and final book in a trilogy and therefore the review may contain some spoilers for previous books. Read The Darkest Minds (Review) and Never Fade (Review) first, then come back ***

Title: In the Afterlight
Series: The Darkest Minds #3 
Author: Alexandra Bracken 
Published: October 28, 2014 by Disney Hyperion 

Synopsis: 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.

Let me see if I can pull myself together long enough to write this review. I am currently in the midst of a pretty serious book hangover so I'm not entirely sure how coherent any of this will be. I will say this, In the Afterlight was a fantastic ending to an amazing dystopian series with an interesting world, incredible characters and a thrilling plot. 

I have always loved the world of this series. The concept of teenagers with psionic/supernatural powers who have been quarantined by society has been so incredibly interesting. It has always done such a great job of exploring the idea of if these powers are good or evil, the internal struggle around them, and society's fear of the "other." That was definitely a major theme in this book and one that I always enjoy books about. And as it is the final book in this series it was full of explanations about the world and took us full circle on more than one occasion. It had plenty of big reveals and conclusions to storylines that began in the first book. We got answers to questions that arose at the very beginning and resolutions to things that made the first book so intriguing and heartbreaking. I was expecting a little bit more on the mystery side of things but we did get the full picture and the truth about this world which is so complex and interesting. 

In the first two books in this series that world created a story about survival. Getting away from people trying to harm you, searching for food and shelter, staying hidden and staying safe. In the Afterlight however it is about a different kind of survival. In the Afterlight was about ensuring your future, a future you previously didn't know was possible. But that is probably what made the story so heartbreaking and what led to the book hangover. It focuses less on the action and adventure aspect of the series and more on the characters. 

And it's a good thing too because the strength of this series is in it's characters. The characters that Alex has created are some of the most honest, well-crafted, and diverse characters I have ever read about. They seem so real that it's like I know them personally. I have this deep and emotional connection to them. I've always been such a fan of Ruby and it's been great to see her develop throughout this series. In The Darkest Minds she was quite the reluctant hero. She didn't want to use her powers and didn't really know how. But now she has figured out how to use them to achieve her goals and has become kind of badass. Of course there is still the standard internal struggle and personal weaknesses but it's been great seeing her Hero's Journey. 

However, the best characters in this series are the secondary characters. All of my favorites from the two previous books are back being hilarious, sweet, and badass. And I can't mention the secondary characters without mentioning my ships and yes, I have more than one. Both of my ships sailed and it was glorious. This book is full of amazing shipping feels. It's full of all kinds of different feels, all related to these characters. Because I'm so attached to them when anything happens it brings up all kinds of emotions. In this book I went through the entire spectrum of book-related feels. I even cried tears of joy, I cried them so hard I couldn't see at times! 

I haven't read a lot of dystopian novels but at times this did feel a little formulaic. I've noticed a trend in this genre. In book 1 you establish the world and why the antagonist, usually a shady government, is evil and not to be trusted. In book 2, you expand the world and further explain why antagonist is bad and why they need to be brought down. In book 3, you attempt to bring down the antagonist usually with some kind of epic battle. I definitely felt at times, the similarities to some of the more popular dystopian series that I have read like The Hunger Games and Divergent. And unfortunately with a lot of trilogies the last book is kind of a let down. Never Fade muddied the waters with the plot of the series and I wasn't entirely sure how it would all get resolved. I feared that it wouldn't be able to get there, that it was going to make things even more complicated, or that there was just going to be a magical solution to it all. But for me that wasn't true here. Everything was resolved, there was no deus ex machina, and despite things in the middle making me think they might, it didn't get any more complicated. The resolution was pretty satisfying. Everything I had hoped would happen, did happen.

But that need to ensure everything was resolved did create some issues with the pacing. It felt like there was a chunk of the book in the middle where things slowed down a little too much and then when it finally rose back up for the final climax it was over too quickly. As the ending drew near I was seriously wondering how Alex was going to reconcile all the storylines that were created but she did. And while they felt satisfying, they still felt rushed. When the book was over I found myself wishing desperately that there was more. That this story would continue. But I think that is a testament to how much I liked the book and the series and not that it wasn't a good ending.

I think fans of the series, like me will be satisfied and happy with the way it all ends. This is definitely one of the best endings of a dystopian trilogy and despite a few concerns I really loved it. It has an interesting world, phenomenal characters you can't help but love, and a thrilling plot.

I give In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken a 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you're a fan of this series rush out to your bookstore and pick this up. Savor saying goodbye to those characters you love and learning the truth about this world. If you are a fan of YA dystopia then definitely add this series to your list.

Have you read In the Afterlight? What did you think about the series conclusion? If you haven't read it what other dystopian series do you recommend? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. One of these days I am so going to start Darkest Minds. I just feel like I'm going love it. Great review!

    1. It's a great series, I hope you check it out and love it!