2 Mini Book Reviews: NEVER FADE and IN THE AFTER LIGHT

NEVER FADE (The Darkest Minds #2) - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2013 - Quercus Children's Books
Genres: Young adult / futuristic / adventure
Pages: 560.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / child abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind.
Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

This series is truly a case of "it's not you, it's me." Because if you're a die-hard sci-fi fan and you love Bracken's style of writing, I think you'll adore the series. But for me, it's just not working.

Like you probably already know, I'm not a big fan of Bracken's writing. The style isn't for me - her paragraphs are chunky and she isn't concise, and I find that that holds me back when I'm trying to enjoy the scene on the page.

The plot and characters are so boring. The story moves slowly, and it only begins to get interesting about 250 pages in when Liam shows up; he's the most compelling character by far. But the others - especially Ruby - are dull. They lack that crucial spark. They're vivid - well, the leads are; the secondary cast is unremarkable, especially the villains who are one-dimensional - but for some reason I find them bland and unoriginal.

The world is extremely uninteresting. Amidst a sea of other YA futuristic stories that involve torn apart worlds and kids strewn around the globe rebelling against the government, this particular story doesn't have enough to make it stand out.

IN THE AFTER LIGHT (The Darkest Minds #3) - Alexandra Bracken
Published: 2014 - Quercus Children's Books
Genres: Young adult / futuristic / adventure
Pages: 592.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / child abuse.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

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.

Warning: this review isn't complimentary and I actually feel wrong writing it because I think my review amounts to little more than personal taste. It doesn't feel fair.

Okay, so I didn't enjoy the book at all. I was bored out of my mind, there's hardly any plot, the characters' actions feel passive most of the time, and there's a ton of seemingly unnecessary teen angst. The book is almost 600 pages: boy, does it feel like it.

If you've loved this series up-til now, then I'm positive you'll enjoy In The After Light. But if your reactions to the previous two books have been lukewarm  and you're now hoping for the final story to turn things around, I'll tell you now: it doesn't. At least, it didn't for me.

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