In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
Published: October 28, 2014
Source/Edition: Bought at Books-A-Million, Hardcover
Summary provided by Goodreads:
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.
**Spoilers for The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, & In the Afterlight**
I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where it changed for me but I’ll go through all my thoughts of this book in this review. I would just like to recognize the hard work that Bracken did put into this book. She wrote beautifully and full of description. I fell in love with this book’s prologue — so poetic. Writing is hard, especially writing trilogies and ending those trilogies. I always felt like it’s harder to end a dystopian than other kinds of books. I think that’s my main problem here. I was expecting so much because I did love the first two books. It fell short for me. I was underwhelmed. I was even contemplating a 2-star rating but that really hurt me. I’ve had this internal battle for a long time now.
A huge bulk of this book was very … boring for me. That’s saying something because this is a 500+ page book. The mostly dragged on. The beginning was very promising because it started right where we left off in Never Fade. After that, it pretty much fizzes out until the last 100 pages of the book. There were some very interesting parts interspersed in the middle. There were a lot of arguments. Too many, actually — especially between Ruby/Cole, and Liam. There were secrets between friends and lovers but that got old really quick. Yet, they kept arguing, kept keeping things a secret. Effective communication was at an all time low in this book haha but I digress.
Cole: Wait … where the hell are we? Why are we going east, not north?
Ruby: I have a hunch
Cole: Yeah, and I have a pain in my ass — and surprise, it’s you.
The best thing about this book in my opinion was Cole. Okay not the best but one of the better parts! I am in love with Cole. He’s like the anti-Liam. Now I never said I hate Liam. I actually really like Liam, especially in The Darkest Minds and Never Fade, but he’s too much. He’s too nice, too understanding, too patient, too everything. Of course, that’s not such a bad thing but I don’t know, Cole was exciting for me. I love the little darkness in him, his aggressiveness, his flirty attitude, and his little insecurities. I love that he’s a red! I love how fiercely protective of Liam he is and how he almost always loses it when Liam’s life is in danger — that scene in Never Fade where we find out he’s read was h-o-t.
A lot of people here were bothered with Cole’s and Ruby’s relationship. I loved it! It was one of my favorite things of this book. I don’t ship them. I don’t think they’d work out in a relationship. I loved the friendship and understanding that flourished between them. I felt that there was more Cole/Ruby scenes that showed their development. They balanced each other out. They had similar views when it came to this “war” and I felt that was so important because it’s true, no one else other than Reds, Oranges, and Yellows would understand the burden of their abilities. Red is the worst power there, hardest to control, and they get the most hate — from normal people and psi kids alike. Everyone fears them. I liked that Ruby was there to help shoulder Cole’s self hate about being a red. Because of this, Ruby’s relationship with Liam suffers but I didn’t really mind. I couldn’t stand Ruby and Liam here. Their arguments and trust issues. I just had enough of it. I will say though that sometimes Cole’s need to protect Liam would emasculate Liam. It wasn’t fair to Liam so I understand why they couldn’t get along. I also understand Cole because all he wants is Liam safe. No matter the cost. He’d rather Liam hate him forever, as long as he was safe and alive. I mean imagine how crazy Cole went after Liam left the League, got caught, and then got shipped off to camp. He didn’t want that to happen again. So enter douchebag Cole.
Other than feeling bored throughout the book, I’d say my biggest problem was with the ending. I mean this book literally took me 8 days to finish. That’s a full 6 days more than it should’ve taken me. There was so much planning for everything and I was expecting some awesome battle scenes but then it was a letdown. It was anticlimactic. Oh, and yeah Cole is killed off. Yup, he dies. Not even in a bada**, valiant, fighting for people’s lives kind of way. We didn’t even see it firsthand. I will forever be mad about this. The book afterwards became like static to me. I just needed it to be finished already. I was done. He was such an important character in the past two books and he was just cast aside like nothing. It was all so devoid of emotion. If I wasn’t such an easy crier then I probably wouldn’t have cried. Oh, and no one really mourned for him, which due to circumstances I can understand but at the same time no. I hated that no one really got to know that part he had in the revolution, how much he cared for the kids, wanted to fight for their freedom. All the while, those same kids resented him in a way because he wasn’t “like them”, he didn’t have powers (little did they know). He wasn’t mentioned again afterwards and I think that bothered me even more. So, I guess Ruby didn’t feel that close to him. Whatever. (Sorry, I’m just extremely bitter right now.)
Before I finish and tell you what I like, I want to get to the topic of Clancy. He’s a great antagonist. I hate him. How he was treated and experimented on explains his actions but it shouldn’t excuse his actions. In the end, we all are what we choose and he chose to manipulate people for his own personal gain. Sometimes — most of the times — leading to their death. Did he ever feel remorse? Nope. What’s even worse? The fact that Ruby was tricked by Clancy 3 times in the trilogy. 3 times! Once in each book. How have you not learned? You check to see if Clancy is taking control of others but don’t bother to check yourself? Come on. What else? I hate Clancy because he led Cole to his death. How is it fair that Clancy gets to live with a clean slate and Cole’s just dead? Was his death even necessary? Did it even serve a purpose? They didn’t even get to bury Cole’s body but again I shall digress before I rant on because trust me, there’s still a lot that I can rant on about.
So the positives! What did I like? I loved that Zu was back! I loved that she finally found her voice and she got to tell her story! I can just imagine how cute her voice sounds. I totally cried when she started talking about her experiences. I loved her relationship with Vida! Zu and Chubs brought the soft side of Vida and I loved that. I love, love, love Cate! I wish she in this book more. I loved Bracken’s writing and I love the characters, especially the complex characters like Cole and Clancy. That list of positives is too short and I honestly wish that it was longer and that my rating for this book wasn’t borderline between 2 to 3 stars.