Book reviews

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

Source: Harper Collins Australia (merci, beaucoup)
485 pages

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

This is probably THE BEST concluding book in a series I have ever read, IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

(You gotta love Emma Stone)

Before I get into why: Another huge thanks to Harper Collins for sending me this book. My first review copy.
Thanks HEAPS!
Back to the book at hand before I get into the spoilers section. This book was epic! It is obviously the best one of the series because not only are all the questions answered but every single character gets the justice they deserve. Let’s take time for a HUGE round of applause for Alexandra Bracken. This is a VERY well done book.
If you haven’t picked up this fantastic, highly recommended series, there are no excuses. READ IT!

My rating: 97%

Spoilers

I can’t help being afraid of concluding books in dystopian series because they’re so unpredictable (if you’ve read Allegient, you know what I mean). I have to admit, I was scared picking up this book because not only was I so emotionally invested in it but I was frightened who we were going to lose in order to attain a resolution.
And we did get a loss. We lost Cole.
That hurt.
When we first heard those words being said, “Stewart is dead”, there were no words to describe how much my heart was pounding and how many tears were just streaming down my face. Of course, we didn’t want Liam dead, that would just devastate us all and I feel like a bad person for being relieved that Cole died, instead. I was still very upset but I was a tinge joyful that Liam was alive (thank you Alexandra!).
But, I have to admit that Cole grounded Ruby, he was her reality check and when Ruby returned back to Thurmond, we got to see how much he grounded her. She hears his reassuring voice urging her to be strong, to keep going and my heart broke.
Cole and her had a strong relationship that helped both of them cope with their doubts and immerse as leaders to change the world (I had flair for the dramatic, there). Because they both had powers that were stronger than the blues and greens, it allowed them to support each other through the way that they both feared their immense power, that it had the ability to destroy anything in it’s path if they allowed it to consume them. It was a frightening prospect and I was thankful that they both had each other.

This Cole and Liam brother dynamic was SO FRUSTRATING!!
They’re constantly yelling and arguing and disagreeing.
Cole’s accusing him of being dumb and naive and Liam is accusing him of being this control freak. And this was so frustrating. I just kept yelling in my mind to make up already. They’re always at ends, playing tug of war and when Cole died I was just so sad that they didn’t get a real chance to be real brothers

Ruby almost killed me in this book, more towards the beginning than the last 200 pages or so. She reminded of Tris in Insurgent. Ruby was so ridden by guilt and loss that she bottled it all up from Liam’s unending sweetness and understanding that she began to pull herself away from him to protect him and keep secrets. I will never understand that mentality in books where the guy or the girl will pull away to protect the other. Don’t they understand that, that NEVER works.
Anyway, I was crying with happiness when she admitted everything to Liam and everything between them was good again. SO HAPPY.

Lets talk about Zu and Chubs and Vida.
Zu, first.
ZU IS BACK.
Their reunion was the most happiest in the book. They came crashing together and I had that same feeling when the brothers are reunited in The Impossible.
I’m so proud of that little girl. She grew up so much, I was beyond words when I found out she’s 13 now. WOW. She’s so wise beyond her young years. She’s always understanding and the talk she had with Ruby, I thought, allowed both to develop as a person. Do you remember when Zu was just a tiny girl, wearing yellow gloves with her mouth shut. She’s so much confident and braver now, with her Yellow ability and finding her voice. I’m so proud. Her bravery to speak for the first time during that interview brought tears into my eyes and we read the huge impact it had on the close ones around her. How proud they all were all their little girl.
Chubs and Vida.
I knew from the very beginning that they were meant for each other. I ship them so much!
Their teasing and “insulting”, I knew was their version of flirting. When we found out about them “building shelves”, I cracked up in hysteric laughter. It was so funny how shy Chubs was and how careless Vida was. Aw, they are the cutest. I’m happy that Chubs finally got the chance to practice his intelligence in the end. He really is brilliant.

We finally learnt about the cause of IAAN and I was so mad.
It was caused by the “good intentions” of the government. Ruby summed it up pretty well:
“They poisoned us and they kept us locked up for their mistake”
We also finally received the harsh reality of what experimenting was going on. For once I felt sorry for Clancy. He’s fine now, Ruby erased his memories and replaced them with happy ones so that he would no longer have to be consumed by his pride and anger. When we saw his real smile for the first time like he had been freed, I cried with happiness. I felt that now, he could be the person that he had secretly always wanted to be deep in his heart when he was manipulative Clancy. Another joyful scene was the children being reunited with their parents and ultimately Ruby being reunited with hers. I think that was the question on all our lips. Would she end up meeting her family once more? And she did. And I cried (of course).
That scene when they hold each other and just cried finally remembering the most special memories and I felt as if everything had been tied with the help with her Grams. GO GRAMS!

Ruby developed so much as a character. She returned to Thurmond as a different person, a person is control, a confident person who came to make everything right. My heart was swelling with pride when she brought them down with that simple USB stick and she was yelling F*** YOU at the soldiers and saying she came to say that they should F*** themselves.
SO PROUD.
I love that line that she says:

“It rained the day,they brought us to Thurmond,
And it rained the day, I walked out”

Kickass, man.

We got a good ending. I was satisfied but I think we all know that this ending would take years and years to finally come full circle since the US is in tatters (I wonder where Australia is in all of this?). I liked that Chubs was the voice for real justice. He was the perfect one for the role. Let’s relive those last lines:

“We drove, winding through the city streets until we found green, tree-lined roads,making our way towards the lazy lines of the river that ran along the curved spine of the city. Liam glanced over at me, taking a break from his off-key crooning. Lit by the warm, afternoon sunlight, his fingers entwined with mine over the centre console. Zu rocked in time to the music, chattering excitedly about each and every sign we passed. Chubs slid a book out of the backseat pocket in front of him, examining the cover for a moment before flipping it open. His fingers, absently tapped the cracked spine to the beat as Vida leaned against his shoulder and closed her eyes.
I brought my window down, letting my free hand drift out to catch the wind.
And the open road rolled out in front of us”

THE GANG IS BACK

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