“In the Afterlight” by Alexandra Bracken book review

In the afterlight

Spoilers!!!

As soon as I finished reading Never Fade, I opened In the Afterlight and read it through. Each book got progressively darker and more serious, which was fine with me because there were some lighter parts interspersed.

On to the discussion!

Characters:

Ruby: I really, really liked Ruby more and more as the trilogy went on. She may not be the easiest person to like, but you have to admit she manages to do a lot of stuff, and she has to deal with tons of stuff that would make some people crazy. Plus, she’s a great narrator. Her storyline about using her abilities (when to do so and when not to) was fascinating to read about. So was her relationship with all the other characters, especially Clancy and the Stewart brothers.

Liam: In some parts, he seemed distant from Ruby. But the scenes with Ruby, Chubs, Liam, and Zu made up for that. The arguing between Liam and Cole was well done, although I have to side with Liam. Even though Cole might have thought his ideas wouldn’t work, he should have given Liam a chance to get in his two cents.

Chubs: Chubs was great, as always. He didn’t really have very much character development in this book, probably because he was more of a supporting character, but that was fine with me. It was fun to read the scenes with him in it (especially the endless bickering with Vida).

Zu: I knew she was going to talk in this book! It disappointed me that she wasn’t in Never Fade at all. She seemed so much differently than the way she was when Ruby first met her at the gas station in The Darkest Minds. Then she was super shy and scared, now she’s funny and talkative and gives advice to people.

Vida: There are many things not to like about Vida, but she does have just as many redeeming qualities. The way I’d describe her is permanently frustrated. Frustrated with herself, frustrated with other people, frustrated with Chubs. . . . And speaking of Chubs: he and Vida are such opposites in everything that they almost fit together in a really funny way.

Cole: I don’t know why, but I wasn’t as connected to Cole as I was with the other characters. Maybe it was because of his never-ending arguments with Liam. He should have told everyone that he was a Red way before he did (and they really should have guessed; it wasn’t all that hidden). Of course it was sad when be died—I wasn’t at all expecting that. It was especially sad because he never got the chance to resolve his argument with Liam.

“Everyone needs reality to punch them in the face every once in a while. Keeps you on guard.”

The plot:

The first 20-30% was mostly about them hanging around at the Ranch, doing pretty much nothing but talking about what they should do, and being annoyed by Clancy. The next 70-80% of the book made up for that. They broke into TWO CAMPS. The whole sequence about breaking into Oasis, from the time they climbed onto the truck to the time the kids got out at the Ranch, was so satisfying. I almost expected the same smoothness to happen at Thurmond. But of course not.

Throughout the entire book, I wanted something bad to happen to Clancy. I didn’t really want him to die, but I definitely wanted him to lose his abilities and never be able to control people again. I got what I wanted, finally.

Ruby WENT BACK TO THURMOND. It was like reading The Darkest Minds again. They told stories, they ate in the Mess hall, they worked in the garden, she met Sam again. And gave Sam her memory back! When I read that, I was pretty sure Ruby would be able to give her parent’s memory of her back, too.

The part in Thurmond up until they took her away on the ambulance was perfectly done. The things about this series is that it combines things that are familiar and real (like ambulances, crowds, TVs) with things that are weirds and unreal (like IAAN, White Noises, mind-controlling abilities).

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

One of the best things about the series is the writing. It’s not awkward at all, and some sentences are really memorable. Also, there’s plenty of funny dialog and great characters that all fit in with the excellent writing.

“Black is the color of memory.
It is our color.
The only one they’ll use to tell our story.”

The ending!!!

Ruby, Liam, Chubs, Vida, and Zu all go out in a car together and turn on the old music that they for some reason listen to, just like they did in The Darkest Minds (plus Vida). And of course, the book ends with a reference to Jude’s analogy of the future:

“And the open road rolled out in front of us.”

~Papyrus

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