"In the Afterlight" by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review
Well, I'm finally done with The Darkest Minds series. If you've seen my reviews for the previous two books (here and here), you know how much I've been enjoying the series, so my expectations for this final book were set pretty high. Unfortunately, In the Afterlight ended up being a bit of a letdown compared to the other books. I still thought it was reasonably interesting, but it's definitely my least favorite one of the series. Some minor spoilers for the first two books ahead.
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book #3)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Page Count: 535
First Published: October 28, 2014
Before I get on with the review, let me preface this by saying I can't possibly imagine the pressure that comes with wrapping up a book series, especially a successful one with beloved characters. I'm not here to disrespect Alexandra Bracken's work or anything—I'm just someone who went into this book with high hopes after everything leading up to it, so please try not to get super defensive if you loved this one. To each their own.
In the Afterlight picks up where Never Fade left off, but this time at a much slower pace. This was one of my biggest problems with this book: it's the longest one in the series, and you can definitely feel it. Even though I'm not someone who needs an action-packed novel to stay interested, there comes a point when planning and strategizing starts to lose its appeal. It took me over half of the book to actually get excited about anything, which I think is way too many pages to spend being mildly interested. My favorite thing throughout those pages was the fact that Ruby finally came to terms with her powers, and started using them without being afraid. When the more exciting events came, they were too far in to make up for the time I spent waiting for something to happen, not to mention most of them were pretty predictable. Nothing really surprised me or struck me as a plot twist.
Aside from the pacing, what frustrated me was the constant lack of communication between the characters, and I'm not just talking about Ruby and Liam. There are SO MANY problems everyone was dealing with that could have been solved and/or avoided if the characters would just talk to each other. Even taking into account the terrible circumstances they have faced growing up, I feel like at this point in the story they should have learned some basic benefits of talking things out and trusting others.
As far as the ending goes, it was an interesting balance of tying up story lines and explaining certain things, while also completely ignoring other ones and ultimately opening another can of worms. I can't say I felt satisfied by that, even though the author tried her best to wrap up the series. I still have so many questions! My final gripe with the book is that after all of this time, I didn't see much progress with accepting these people and their powers. Throughout the series, they are regarded as dangerous freaks and something that should be eliminated from society. Though this is slowly dealt with at different points, I never thought the attitude truly changed.
Now, I don't want you to think I hated the book—I really didn't. I still enjoyed reading about these characters, seeing them grow, change, and find ways to use their powers. In the Afterlight even made me really love a character I didn't like in the first place—Vida. The more I found out what's behind her incredibly sassy and crass facade, the more I liked her. I also really enjoy Alexandra Bracken's writing, and the way she makes the personalities of her characters comes though.
In the end, I still liked In the Afterlight, and I would recommend the series overall, but I just didn't think it was as great as the other books in the trilogy or the novellas.
Have you read In the Afterlight? Did it live up to your expectations?
UPDATE: If you are thinking about getting into The Darkest Minds trilogy or you've already read it and want to talk about it, you should check out my review of the entire series in the video below!