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.
If you’ve read my reviews for The Darkest Minds and Never Fade, you know I think very highly of this series. I love that it dares to be dark, but has some light moments as well. I’m always a sucker for books with a focus on friendship, and The Darkest Minds does it very well. So as you can see, I already had high expectations of In The Afterlight. But did it live up to them?
Pretty much, yeah. Out of all the books in the series, it was probably my least favorite, but that in no way means that it was a bad book or that I was disappointed by it. The resolution of the main mystery was more or less what I expected it to be, so it didn’t blow me away, and I don’t think it’s very realistic, but for me that was never the most important part of the story anyway. That honor goes to all the great relationships between the characters, the at-the-edge-of-your-seat action, and the random moments of kindness in a bleak, bleak world.
Let’s talk characters because it’s not every day you get to read about such a great cast of them. Chubs and Vida are my favorites, and I loved every scene with them in it. Vida and Ruby actually have a couple of scenes together that I appreciated a lot, because Vida forces Ruby to deal with things, and Ruby admits she trusts Vida to have her back. There’s a lot of leftover baggage from the two previous novels that the characters have to deal with in In The Afterlight, but Alexandra Bracken handles it beautifully. I love that Ruby and Liam’s relationship isn’t perfect, because they’re the worst communicators in the history of relationships, but it’s also clear that they care for each other very deeply. Nico has a great character arc – I went from disliking him to caring about what happens to him, and I love when books (or tv shows or movies) do that. Someone I didn’t think I’d care about so much showed up again towards the end of the book. I’m talking about Sam of course. I thought the moments with her and Ruby were great, and I really missed her in the end. I would have loved to see them talk again after the breakout. It was easy to forget how much time they spent together and how much they meant to each other throughout the series, because she just didn’t have a lot of screen time, but it really came out in those Thurmond scenes. To be honest, I just love all of the characters and I want to spend more time with them. There’s really not much to complain about here.
In terms of the actual story, I felt like some parts of the resolution went a little too smoothly. It’s not that I WANT to see my favorites die, but Cole’s murder felt like a bit of a cop out. I didn’t mind him, but I really wasn’t that crushed when he ended up dead, and such a dark story kind of deserved a more heartbreaking death (sorry Cole). A few more hiccups and twists wouldn’t have hurt. It also made me a little uncomfortable that it was portrayed as such a big moment when Zu started to talk again. l mean good for her if it means she worked through her issues and accepts who she is, but it seems like one of those we always have to “cure” anyone who’s doesn’t conform to the perceived norm kind of storylines. Maybe I’m just overthinking this since it WAS said in the very first book that Zu CAN talk but has some sort of psychological barrier that keeps her from speaking out loud. It’s definitely good that she managed to work through her issues and become a more stable human being, but it just seemed a bit strange in the context that the whole point of the book is that you don’t need to try to cure people who are different. And even disregarding all of that, it was just a bit too predictable and cheesy. Apart from that, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t have a lot of time to spare while I was reading the book, but whenever I sat down and read a couple of pages, I got immersed into the story. At the beginning, the characters were always in motion and going from place to place, but just when it started too get too much, they settled down and took some time to gather themselves. The very ending (as in the last page or so) is perfection. It’s exactly where I wanted to see the characters without even realizing it. After I finished the book, I had this really strong urge to tell people about it because it was so great. I’m sad that the series is finished because the characters have really grown on me, but I’m sure glad I was along for the ride.
4.5 out of 5 cupcakes!