I did not hate this book as much as I expected to. I credit a big chunk of that to the surprisingly open ending. I was expecting a neatly tied up bow that brought everything together and made sure no one, except the big bag villain, was unhappy. Instead, we get a glimpse of Lena, Alex, and Julian all making it through the fight. All helping to bring the wall down. So the biggies make it through – expected, but what can you do. Sure, it’s pretty clear that Lena and Alex will end up together, but she does admits that she’s not 100% certain how things are going to go. We’re reunited with Grace, which makes me happy, but she’s definitely a bit of a broken child. Hana is wandering, literally just walking aimlessly, with no goal other than not being where she was. Raven dies and not in battle. She’s simply caught in the crossfire– this is a good thing. This is how things happen in real struggle. I detest books where every single person close to the protagonist survives. If the movement matters, there has to be some kind of payment by the heroes. Raven dying in such a senseless way is more painful than if she’d been killed in the middle of a fight.
However, the ending wasn’t perfect. It was super preachy. It should have ended with Lena and Grace going over to the wall. The whole ‘voice over’ portion of the ending and the description of the uncureds attacking the wall feels like it was written to be a movie ending. It was just too much. It was extremely overwritten (oh, and Oliver – you used the word overloud too many times. So many times that it felt like the only sounds were either silence or earth shatteringly loud), but that’s normal. The text of the books has been trying too hard from the beginning of the series. It’s a very ‘testify’ moment. The book should have ended a several pages earlier than it did.
I have some big issues with this recent trend of trilogies suddenly switching to alternating povs in the final book (yeah, I’m looking at you Allegiant). I don’t mind alternating views, but this feels like it’s being done because the author doesn’t have enough of a story to tell from the viewpoint we’ve been following in the first two books. That is completely true in this story.
The Hana story is so much more interesting than the Lena story. We all knew the cure wasn’t going to work on Hana, she dabbled in too many ‘dangerous’ activities before her treatment. Her future husband is a disgusting, blechy man. He’s so righteous. I hated him, and that’s great to read. I had emotions! The mystery of his divorce from Cassie and Hana’s eventual discovery of her incarceration is one of the more interesting plots in the book. I wish there could have been more time spent focusing on this new regime of punishing people who don’t completely comply with the rules. Had that decision been highlighted, there would have been a much more involved battle at the end. There would have been citizens not willing to put up with these rules that would have joined the resistance. And others who wanted so badly to prove their worth that they would have tried to stop the resistance.
Part of what’s missing from this story is the conflict between the cured and the uncured. Obviously, the battle is there, but there’s little direct interaction between the two sides. In the first two books, we had the uncured people influencing those people who wanted to be changed. We could see the direct contradictions between the uncured and the cured (think Alex vs Lena’s aunt).It starts to go away in the second book but Julian is so into the cured movement that the disparity between him and Alex makes it feel like there’s room for growth. In this book, we have Lena and the Resistance in one story and Hana and the Cured in the other. We get a bit of their interaction at the end when Hana finds Lena, but the separation ends up feeling lacking. I loved Hana’s ambivalence towards Lena’s return and Fred’s abuse and imminent death. She’d been struggling throughout the story – feeling conflicted about how she should feel about the possibility of Lena being dead. She knows she should be outraged at her husband. But when she’s confronted of with actual events, she’s unable to work up the emotions she wants to have. These scenes solidify how flawed a society this is and how awful the process of the cure really is.
The lack of depth in Lean’s story is the major problem in the completion of the trilogy. It was half a story. Nothing is every fully developed. Instead of focusing on the love triangle that doesn’t end up being anything other hand Lena staying with Julian until Alex wants her again, how about spending more time with her trying to become a figurehead in the rebellion? Or on her relationship with her mother. There were years and years of time they needed to make up for and instead, we get tiny snippets. Wouldn’t Lena have been more interested in building that relationship than in Julian or Alex? Why was Coral even introduced? Her only purpose was to make Lena jealous, which made me dislike Lena, a lot. Honestly, I could have done without pretty much all of Lena’s parts. The only good part was when she goes over the wall and finds out what happened with Lu. This scene includes exactly what I was talking about before – interaction between a cured and an uncured, and it was excellent. Otherwise, Lena just kept spinning around and around letting things happen to her as she got indignantly angry about the stupidest things.
I made it through the series, but I don’t know that I feel better for having done it. Let’s put a stop to this need to stretch YA stories out over three books and start coming out with some really solid, well developed, standalone books. Publishing industry, can we start doing this? Please!