Top critical review
Wanted to love it, but PLEASE stop with the social justice lecturing!
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2019
I had been eagerly awaiting the final book in this series. The first two books kept my attention and I could hardly put them down. This book...I feel like it lost its way and I found myself thinking a few times "wow, if that had been left out of the story, we wouldn't have missed anything." I struggled to make it all the way through this one.
This book just got kind of bloated with the addition of new characters and storylines. We also had to be walloped with a healthy dose of social justice crap in the character of Jeri, who is gender fluid and sure doesn't give us a chance to forget it and just enjoy the character. In almost every scene with this character, they have to make at least one reference about being gender fluid, which I think really takes away from the character. Instead of being a valuable person to the story line who could have been so much more interesting, we are given a token player whose defining feature is that she feels like a woman when the sun is out and he feels like a man when it's cloudy. They also seem ready to fall in love with almost any other character at any time. Dumb and distracting. Jeri says at one point in the story that pronouns are a lazy way of addressing people...but then spends the rest of the book being honored (or not) when people check (or don't check) the sky to see how to address him/her. A whole chapter explaining gender fluidity with Scythe Anastasia is really NOT necessary and does nothing to advance the story.
With the addition of the extra characters and story lines, the book felt like a book of short stories versus a novel. Sort of disjointed and jarring. I would just sort of get a handle on what was going on and then we switch points of view. Then one POV would randomly disappear for hundreds of pages and reappear at the end. At least one major character from the past books just punks out lamely for almost the entire book, like the author just didn't care to continue writing about a character that he spent time developing and making into somebody who was actually interesting.
I wanted to love this book like I did the other two books. I approached with interest and excitement and really looked forward to sharing it with others. I wish it had been edited better, or maybe not had so much new material. It is a drastically different book from the first two. I wish the end didn't feel like such a cop out.
Overall, I wish that authors (and maybe this is a thing publishers are insisting upon, I don't know) would just STAAAAP with the social justice lecturing because great stories can be told without it. We read to escape the world, and we receive more than enough lecturing from everyday media. This is starting to invade almost ALL of the YA novels I've been reading lately, to the point where I think I may stop buying new releases. Note to publishers: if you want to sell books to people, maybe try not to disappoint the people who are actually spending money on your product.