There’s so much to talk about in this book that I don’t know what order to talk about it in. I’ll start with characters, then plot.
Ruby: Besides the fact that she now had few qualms about using her abilities on people, and the fact that she’s no longer timid and afraid of her own shadow, she’s still her old unfriendly, bitter self. She’s one of those characters who doesn’t have the most charming personality, but you like them anyway because of their downsides. Plus, she’s the narrator, so you automatically feel connected with her.
Vida: Well, it took me a while to trust her. Her inability to talk without embellishing her sentences with profanity didn’t help me begin to trust her. At the beginning, I really thought she was plotting against Ruby. Even though I don’t particularly like her personality, it was fun to read all the bickering between her and the others (especially Chubs).
Chubs: After reading about the new characters for a while, it was refreshing to see Chubs again. And SUPER surprising to find out he’d become a skip tracer. I though maybe Liam would be with him at that house, but of course it wouldn’t be that easy. I’d almost forgotten what Chubs was like in The Darkest Minds, so it was great to get to know him again, along with his medical obsession and his car full of supplies.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Chubs said, “apparently the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours. Do continue.”
Jude: I was so glad to have a character like him in this book!! He’s one of my favorite characters in this trilogy. Even the fact that he called Ruby “Roo” was likable. Why was Ruby so dismissive of him in the beginning?! He was worried whenever they came back from an Op, and wanted to make sure they were safe, but she had to act like he was being a nuisance! Unfortunately, I read another review on Goodreads before I finished the book, and it told me what happened to him at the end—but it would have been easy to figure out, anyway. He’s the type of character who dies in books. The one that’s slightly irritating, but that everyone likes, and the one who least deserves it. I missed him being there in In the Afterlight.
“I don’t want to just see someone’s face; I want to know his shadow, too.” —Jude
Liam: I didn’t know what to expect from Liam. With other aspects of the character and plot, I could guess at what would happen, but not with Liam. I almost though he might not ever remember Ruby. I wasn’t ever afraid of him dying, though, despite the many times the book tried to make it seem like he might, because—unlike Jude—he’s not the kind of character to die in a book. For some reason, it seemed like he wasn’t quite as much there as he was in the first book, maybe because his mind was scrambled and he was dying for a good portion of the story.
“So thought crossed my mind,” Liam said suddenly.
“That must’ve been a lonely journey,” Chubs said flipping the pages of his book.
Nico: Basically Nico DiAngelo, from the Percy Jackson books. Aside from the world/situation they’re in, there’s almost literally no difference. They even look the same. I didn’t like Nico nearly as much as I liked Jude, but I didn’t hate him like Ruby did. She has an issue with treating people badly.
For the first chapter, I was completely lost: “What? Op? Who’s Vida? Who’s Prisoner 27? Where are we? Where’s Liam? How long has it been?”
It was almost too hard to push through the first very confusing chapter, but I’m glad I did. Everything cleared itself up in the next chapter. It was interesting to see inside the Children’s League and learn a little about its history, and to meet the new kids there.
Although I didn’t really like reading about the HQ in Los Angeles. I wanted to read about riding in Black Betty, listening to old rock music. Fortunately for me, Ruby left HQ for Boston with Jude and eventually Vida, to escape from the League and find Liam. The scenes that showed them traveling across the country were reminiscent of The Darkest Minds, traveling with Liam, Chubs, and Zu in Black Betty.
As much as I liked Jude (and eventually Vida), it was great to see Chubs again, and relieving to find Liam at “East River”, even though he was dying and didn’t remember Ruby at all. The scenes with Liam and Ruby, when he couldn’t remember her but somehow knew her, were some of the weirdest and saddest in the book.
The whole sequence at the airport to get supplies was nerve-racking. When Jude made that cloud of electricity (or whatever that thing was) around himself, I thought he was going to die from the effort to make it, or get shot by the PSFs. Also, how did Ruby run with that knife in her back?
The scene with Rob in the car was perfectly done, and probably the darkest in the book. (Note: I should count the times in this series Ruby wakes up after falling unconscious or nearly unconscious. It would add up to a lot.)
Back in Los Angeles, when they were watching the live broadcast of President Gray being shot, I thought he was truly dead. It was almost disappointing when it turned out he wasn’t. I wonder what would have happened otherwise?
And then THE CITY WAS BOMBED. As if they hadn’t had enough trouble already. The part after the bombing, when they’d escaped HQ, and Ruby thought she saw Jude looking up at the sky, was pure TRICKERY. Also, I can’t believe no one noticed that Jude was missing before they got out of the building. I’m sure someone could have saved him.
And then, of course, came the cliffhanger and the end of the book. No discussion of the chaos that happened, no discussion about Jude, just a cutoff and—
I’ve already read In the Afterlight, so I’ll write a review of that soon.