4 out of 5 blazing stars
I finally got it. I wanted to love this series but had rated the previous two books at 3.5 stars. In other words, liked it but not loving it. Well, the final book in the series gave me the love.
When we left off book 2, things were desperate. Cinder, the boy who could channel the aether, despite it’s terrible affect on him, had been stolen by Sable, the leader of the Horns. Sable knows the location of the Still Blue – a calm circle in the middle of our planet’s now raging atmosphere. The problem is, it’s behind a wall of aether, and out at sea. The intention is to use Cinder to break through the wall – and Aria, Perry and Roar aren’t going to let that happen.
All along, the characters have been the strong point in this series. Until they flip flop and change their minds for little or no reason. This phenomenon didn’t happen in this installment. But things aren’t clear sailing either. Roar is nearly destroyed by the loss of Liv and lashing out at everyone, Perry is still mad that Aria left with Roar, and everyone is frustrated that he won’t talk about Liv. On top of that, the the dwellers from the pod aren’t integrating with the rest of the Tides. Aria seems to be the only one who cares about that.
We get to see the full range of the pod’s military might. Which somehow, despite being in charge of the weapons, Consul Hess has lost to the “savages”. I mean, how stupid do you have to be to lose your technological advantage to people who have never used a flushing toilet? He should be sitting pretty, but instead, it’s Sable who has taken control.
As a villain, Sable is near perfect. He believes in what he is doing, despite being a tyrannical despot. His ability as a Scire makes him believe he’s all knowing – and in truth, he seems that way. He’s always ahead of the game and can sniff out a betrayal at 100 paces. And he’s so slick and smooth. I don’t think I have ever hated a villain more, unless it’s Voldemort, or Valentine from The Mortal Instruments (and he wasn’t as well developed. He’s a mustache twirler, whereas Sable’s motivations are legit. He sees himself as being strong and smart enough to do the right thing, even when those things are totally reprehensible.) I loved that the other half of our villain prong, Hess from the pods, was also equally sure of himself… only unable to supply the goods. He was all bluster and no substance. Here he was with all the tech and weapons and his foolish refusal to admit his own weaknesses (and other people’s superiority to him) is what bites him in the butt, time and time again.
The other thing that was so good about this series is the emotional toll on the characters. So often, people die or horrible things happen to them, and since it’s not convenient to the plot to mourn, they play lip service to any pain or anguish this causes. In this series, the characters get angry with each other, loyalties are tested, tempers boil over, people are actually changed by what they experienced. It just intensified what was going on in the plot – as it was the very survival of everybody that was in question.