In the Afterlight: A Book Review

“What I’m trying to get at is, as bad as everything seems, I think, at its heart, life is good. It doesn’t throw anything at us that it knows we can’t handle—and, even if it takes its time, it turns everything right side up again.”

Book: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Author: Alexandra Bracken

In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)

The Darkest Minds Never Fade In the Afterlight…


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. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Thoughts:

This was the last book in the Darkest Minds trilogy. If you haven’t read the Darkest Minds and Never Fade, there’s really no point in you reading In the Afterlight. Go read them instead. But for those of you who are loyal fans and have followed this series closely, trust me- this book is no disappointment. I’m certain you’re all already planning to read it so I’m posting this review mostly to drive you mad with almost-spoilers (I won’t actually be giving anything away though) until you get ready to pick up this book of pure awesomeness.

Ruby is more in touch with her powers than ever and is a lot stronger and assertive for it. Unfortunately, her new-found confidence and sharing secrets with Cole has brought some distance between her friends, Chubs and Vida, and her boyfriend Liam who don’t know what to make of her any more. But while her relationship with her friends has deteriorated, shared secrets and command has brought her closer than ever to Cole. Both of them have common objectives- Making life easier for the kids, finding a cure and protecting Liam. I saw a lot of potential in Cole in Never Fade and he has lived up (maybe even exceeded) those expectations. One of the things which I loved most about this book was the reappearance of Zu. It’s been a while since we (and the kids in this book) have seen her, but she’s never been far from our hearts. She’s back in this book as adorable and brave as ever, adding her name to Vida’s, Cate’s and Ruby’s in a long list of strong, capable females in this series.

This book deals with more jaded, more cynical characters than the first book. Even Liam who was such an optimistic sweetheart in the first book (thus making up one half of one of my Top 5 YA Ships) has taken a heavy dose of reality and betrayal from those who love him most (I love Ruby, but what she pulled at the end of the Darkest Minds was inexcusable. Just inexcusable.) But though that optimism has dampened, it’s not completely disappeared and the characteristics which made me love him in the first place are strengthened by ones that make me respect him. I had heard rumours that there would be a love triangle between Ruby, Liam and Liam’s brother Cole. I am very happy to say that the rumours are very, very wrong. Cole was an amazing character (maybe one of my favourite characters this year)  with a lot of pressure on him and I’m very glad that Ruby was able to provide a strong and steady friendship- and only friendship- for him. I wrote a post about YA tropes. One of the things I mentioned was that in YA, guys and girls are rarely ever just friends. The Darkest Minds Trilogy (with the beautiful friendships between Ruby and Chubs and Ruby and Cole) make it onto the selective list of books which avoid this trope. That being said, I think Cole deserved a shot at happy-ever-after instead of what he got.

The plot escalates in this book although it didn’t exactly WOW me. This book was really fast paced and while in some parts that was good…in others it wasn’t.
The characters had a lot to worry about, and sometimes the book seemed a bit chaotic and fragmented as it jumped from action scene to action scene. There was so much tension and stress, we never got a chance to take a chance to breath and appreciate the characters for who they were.

As for the ending, I have a complaint similar to one I had for the Blood of Olympus. Everything just tied up too neatly for me…

My rating:

Cover: 4/5
Plot: 2.5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
Will I Read Another Book By This Author: Yes, for sure. This series was one of my favourites. Alexandra Bracken is on my automatically- buy-books-from-this-author list.
Other Books Like This: Article 5 by Karen Simmons is a dystopia with a strong emphasis on ‘camps’.

Mortal Heart: A Book Review

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.”

Book: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
Author: Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)


Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

My thoughts: 

Just finished reading Mortal Heart and I was totally blown away. Like a tornado just ripped through me. Seriously. But then I expected nothing less. Ever since I read the first book in the trilogy, I knew I was going to love all of Robin Lafever’s books. So far, I haven’t been wrong.

Like all us His Fair Assassin fans expected, this book was all about Annith. To be honest, I was a little worried about that. Both Ismae and Sybella constantly mention Annith’s saintliness- her nobility, her kindness and her innocence. In their heads, she sounds so freaking pure and pliant, I thought I was going to hate her on principle. Luckily she’s not and luckily I didn’t.

Growing up in the convent has made her a little more naive than Ismae and Sybella who were well and truly jaded by the outside world but Annith does have a backbone and she’s not boring to read about. Not in the slightest.She’s a completely ordinary daughter of death (or about as ordinary as you can get when you’re a daughter of death) meaning she doesn’t have any special gifts at all. But what she lacks in talent, she makes up for in pure determinaton and a stubbornness that you can’t help but admire. What endeared me most to her was her talent at pretending to be the good little novitiate while eavesdropping on secrets behind closed doors (Come on, who can resist a protagonist who eavesdrops?). Despite her ferocity and skill, she has her embarrassing moments (like a failed seduction, or excessive name-dropping)  and is heartbreakingly childish in her quest for affection from anyone.

This book is more than just a story of Annith’s self discovery; it’s essentially crucial in wrapping up the arc of this trilogy. In the end: this is the end. I just cried a little as I realised that.
It was a bit slow at the beginning- if anything, it has reaffirmed in my mind why I would never go to a covenant: It would be too boring. Let’s face it, if a fictional covenant where kick-ass female assassins trained occasionally felt tedious, I would never make it  in a real and totally ordinary one?

But don’t worry, the story picks up the pace really fast as soon as Annith makes her grand escape. What follows next is a series of action, wild horse rides, crazy stunts, arrow-shooting and warriors (both male and female). 464 pages of medieval fiction and I didn’t even get bored once!

Balthazar was the love interest of the story and well…let’s just say that who he is is surprising. I was less surprised than I was supposed to be because of this alternatively pesky and lovely little things called spoilers (which I try not to give out unless I’m actively trying to annoy someone or they beg me for them).
He’s charming- quite dashing actually and like all the guys in this series, he has a dangerous edge and is very, very good with banter. I might have a tiny crush on him (just a tiny one though- I have a strict policy on historical book boyfriends). This romance was not without it’s challenges and trials, and I was constantly guessing at how it would end.

Comparing it to the other two books in the series, I would say that Dark Triumph is my favourite followed by this one followed by Grave Mercy. The historical politics and court intrigue of the the previous books took a back-seat in Mortal Heart. It was less historical fiction and more fantasy, with more time spent on the truly fascinating Pagan religious beliefs of the time and the Nine Gods which were essential to them.
Another notable difference was that this book felt significantly less dark than the other ones. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was light, but it did deal with less heavy topics compared to the previous ones. I think a huge part of that was because of Annith’s upbringing. Growing up at the covenant wasn’t a cakewalk but at the same time it was nothing compared to regularly being abused by your father and sold off like livestock to a ‘husband’ like Ismae or dealing with violence that was almost off-hand in it’s execution and the threat of incest like Sybella.
Like all of the books in this trilogy, I think you could read this alone, but reading it in order of sequence will make this series so much more enjoyable.

One last thing. Before I I start handing out ratings to the book, I want to hand out a couple of hints to those of you who haven’t read it yet. Not spoilers- just hints.
The title of the book, Mortal Heart probably refers to Balthazar and the cover unlocks the huge role Annith is supposed to play (but we don’t get to find out what that role might be until close to the end). So, chew over that, will you?

My ratings:

Cover: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5 
Other books like this: The Throne of Glass series with it’s assassin and fantasy is evolving book by book to slowly become as awesome as this one.