BOOK REVIEW: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra BrackenIn the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)
by Alexandra Bracken
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Synopsis:

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.

“Are you sure this isn’t a nightmare?” he asked quietly. “And that we won’t just wake up?” I stared ahead at the road, the way the dust blowing in from the desert covered it with a faint golden sheen even as gray clouds began to gather over us.
“Yes,” I said after some time. “Because dreamers always wake up and leave their monsters behind.”

Do you guys ever just start reading a book and get so swept up that it consumes you until you’ve gobbled up every last word? Well that’s what happened to me these past few days as I’ve reread Never Fade and In the Afterlight. There’s something about certain YA books that really affects me. It’s not that I haven’t found other books that I’ve loved or have made me feel things, it’s just that none of them have reached in and grabbed my very heart and soul like those special YA ones I’ve found. This series and these characters will always be a prime example of this.

I read these for the first time a while ago, probably shortly after they came out, and the first time around I really wasn’t sure how to feel about this book. I mean, the ending was intense but when I started it this time, my expectations were a little lower because I remembered the problems that I had with it earlier. I don’t know what it was about this time around but it had me clinging to every word like I depended upon them to breathe fully. Like I started even looking forward to when I would have to feed my daughter in the middle of the night because it meant that since I was already awake, I might as well get some reading in.

This whole time, from the moment we met, he’d been waiting for me to realize he’d known me all along, and he had never once wanted me to change.

Mind you, I still recognized those same problems I had the first time around—not much at all happened for the first, oh 75% of the book, Ruby was being a pain in the ass, Liam was being a pain the in ass, COLE was being a pain in the ass…that list kind of goes on and on, lol. I can see how some people didn’t like this because of those reasons…but. But. The ending. The ending that had my heart pounding and had me crying—again—even though this time around I knew exactly what was going to happen.

It might be because this, to me, is a dystopian plot that is the most realistic of any that I have read. I mean come on..it starts out with the threat of chemical warfare and spirals when our government tries combating that by adding a substance to the water that ended up causing a mutation in kids. And to top it off, the very government that made the decision to put said substance in the water without telling ANYONE is the same one that builds the camps, keeps the kids there for “rehabilitation,” say that the outside world hasn’t send aid because they gave up on the people of the United States (even though they have sent rations, medicine, etc.), and whatever other shitty thing they did to cause the wreck the country became. Like that just doesn’t even seen close to out of the realm of possibility.

Another reason these books are so addicting is that the characters are so real. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it for about a day now and I think that Ruby might seriously be my favorite female (or at least top five) character of all time. Her character arc in this series is INCREDIBLE. She starts off as a meek, timid girl and winds up being the person responsible for shutting the camps down. Yes she had help but let’s face it, it wouldn’t have happened without her. She makes mistakes and I got so pissed at her time and time again in this book for thinking she wasn’t good enough or not confiding in Liam because she thought he couldn’t handle it but…that’s so human. She’s SEVENTEEN and has never actually been able to be a teen but she is still allowed to act like one from time to time.

I could go on and one for several more pages about everyone else but I’ll just say that Liam is a sweet cinnamon roll who is literally too good for this earth (he’s also hands down in my top five BBFs), I was heartbroken over (view spoiler), elated at Zu’s first words, and cracking up over Vida and Chubs’ banter/relationship, and felt so wildly giddy when Ruby was reunited with Sam and got the hell out of that camp. It honestly gave me the goosebumps when she was begging Liam, Harry, and Vida to help her walk out because after all she’d been through, she needed to walk out on her own two legs. And she did.

It rained the day they brought us to Thurmond.
And it rained the day I walked out.

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