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…

Blurb:

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
Characters:4/5
Romance:4/5
Plotholes:4/5
Ending:2/5
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’.

Young Elites: A Book Review

Book: Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Blurb:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

My thoughts:

I thought the Legend series by Marie Lu was okay at best so I wasn’t too excited when I heard about Young Elites. That quickly changed after I read the blurb and an interview with Marie Lu saying that she wanted to write about the creation of a villain.

description

Right from the start, Adelina stole my heart (and I was a willing victim).  She’s deformed and is abused by her father who is willing to sell her off as a mistress for a little bit of gold. It’s impossible not to feel any sympathy for her but at the same time Marie Lu has done an excellent job showing Adelina’s dark hatred and her desire to inflict pain, making it obvious that she is no hero. This is made only more obvious when Adelina buckles quickly under Teren’s threats against her sister Violetta to give him information about the Young Elites. I got caught up in this wondorously complex character who likes causing pain but at the same time despises herself for enjoying it. She hates her father but at the same time she really wanted to please him and I think she really did regret committing patricide. This probably makes me sound like a twisted person, but I enjoyed watching Adelina descend the steps towards insanity and darkness. I hoped for her redemption, but at the same time I knew she was never gonna get it.

Adelina’s relationship with Violetta was one of my favourite book sibling relationships. Adelina resents her sister’s naivety and innocence and is clearly jealous of Violetta’s charisma.  Combined with Adelina’s sadistic tendencies, you’d think that Adelina would do her best to hurt her sister. Surprise! She’s fiercely protective of her sister and constantly thinks about her well-being.  Violetta is one of the few people Adelina loves unconditonally and she would do anything (and everything) to keep her safe and happy. Later in the book, it’s revealed that Violetta has a huge secret. I can’t tell you what it is without giving major spoilers but I can tell you that Adelina’s love for her sister is not unrepriocated; Violetta does her best to keep her elder sister safe as well.

Contrary to what the blurb suggest, there is not a love triangle. In fact, the romance plays a smaller role than you would expect. I was not a huge fan of the love interest, Enzo. Sure, he was dark, dangerous, royal and mysterious but his coldness at the beginning of the book kind of put me off and I wasn’t a fan of the tough training he imposed on Adelina. But I guess I’m kind of a hypocrite because during reading, I found myself anticipating the Adelina/Enzo scenes; they had an explosive amount of  chemistry .

So if the book wasn’t full of romance, what was it full of? Action. Swords, knives and control of powers.Not just quantity but quality too. I loved  watching Adelina use her powers (even if I was somewhat creeped out at the same time). Marie Lu did an amazing job giving a description of the working of everyone’s powers and the energy web. Can I just say- Wow!

On a more serious note, the book spends a huge time discussing how the scary appearance of malfettos (those are the young elites) bred first contempt and then fear amongst the society. It got worse when the government started using them as a scrapegoat for all sorts of mishaps and accidents. Stuck among a society which openly discriminated against them and reviled them, the young elites struck back with attacks. And then it continued in a pointless circle (see what I did there?) which just kept escalating. Pretty profound actually, if you think about it. I guess it reminds us not to hate people just cause they look different, or act different.

This book doesn’t have much of a storyline but I found myself enjoying it just the same. It was all thanks to the elaborate world-building and awesome characters. At parts it got kind of dark and disturbing and I didn’t always like it but as a whole I loved the book.

My Ratings:

Cover: 2/5

Plot: 2/5

Characters: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Action: 5/5

Plotholes: 4/5

Ending: 3/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Recommend it to: Anyone who wants to read something dark set in an amazing world with powerful characters. At the same time, all the reasons to read this book make it PG 13.

Book similar to this: Cruel Beauty, The Masque of Red Death and Pure