Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Beauty of a Perfect Ending

Title: The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016!

From Goodreads...
Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

My Review!
*Spoilers! Beware thee!

I feel like I’ve been dragging my feet when it comes to writing this review, because that means that this is really over. Of course, I finished the book back in the middle of August, but I haven’t been able to let it go. So much so that I had to discuss it with my friends, Shannon and Mary (especially to keep the memory fresh in my mind). I’ve had SO MUCH to say, and I’m going to try to do this book, this series and these characters, justice. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Seriously, a few people even associate me with TKOD because I’ve pushed that book SO HARD since reading it back in March of 2014. I had gotten an eARC and read it super early and had to wait even longer for The Heart of Betrayal. And then HOB released, and that ending killed me, and it feels like I’ve waited for this book forever. I just, gah. I have such love for this series and its characters, and I already sense a reread in the future because I still kinda can’t believe it’s done. Over. Final. No more Remnant Chronicles books. *sobs*

Fine, fine. I’ll move on. But don’t doubt I’m not still sad about this ending. THIS PERFECT AND GLORIOUS ENDING. I could not have imagined a more fitting ending to this series. I don’t know how she did it, but Mary gave me everything I wanted, and then some. Even things I didn’t even know I had wanted that much. But okay WHOA, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about Lia first.

Listen. I have a short list of characters that I will fight you about, and Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia is one of them. Don’t come at me with any hate toward her, because I’m not here for that. She is one of the fiercest, bravest, most intelligent of characters, and I WILL FIGHT YOU. Yes, she can be selfish and only think of herself. But really the only selfish decision she ever made was fleeing on her wedding day (and really, who can blame her for that? Would you want to marry someone you don’t know? Also that was the catalyst that set all of this into motion, and she would not have been able to save Morrighan had she gone through with it at the time). Everything that came afterward, after she was brought to Venda, had been for survival. And for her people, she will do anything. I mean, she even walked away from Rafe in this book because her kingdom needed her. Yes, she can make rash decisions and be reckless. But like, is that all you can give me? She’s a fucking QUEEN. A bold, compassionate, and kickass person who brought a kingdom to its knees. Literally. She's one of my favorites of ever. And also can I just like fangirl for a minute about her becoming the Queen of Venda? I wanted that to happen so badly, and I’m so happy it did, and that her right-hand man came with her.

Let’s talk about that love triangle because I’ve got loads to say. So, okay, it has never truly been a love triangle. Not even in the first book. It’s clear from the beginning that Rafe is the one that Lia loves and who she will die for. The problem is, though, that I didn’t totally ship them, especially in light of some events that happened in this book. There are many moments where I felt that Rafe continuously refused to treat her as an equal. He, oh my god, he even locked her up when he found out she was going to Morrighan without him. And look, Kaden did the same thing. But also, that’s WHY I could not understand why Rafe would subject Lia to that again, why he would even think it was ok. I know he was grieving and stressed and he just wanted to protect her, but YO IT IS NOT YOUR DECISION. I think he ultimately did recognize Lia as an equal, but man it took a long fucking time, and I had more feels when it came to her and Kaden. EVEN WHEN literally nothing happened between them in this book. Even when it became clear that it would always be Rafe for her, I shipped them. #cantstopwontstop

Guys, I just have so many feelings for Kaden. It’s an issue. I was super happy that in this book, we get even more background from him, and A LOT of character development. (This was actually probably the book that had the most character development for everyone). I mean, I know he was The Assassin, but I have a thing for morally questionable characters, and also assassins in books. (I don't even care what that says about me, give me all the morally gray bad boys). But Kaden is just a whole lot more than the assassin, and his past, but he just could not ever see that himself. It took a long time for him to find his worth and to let go of his past. It took him a long time to feel worthy of love and compassion, and he could not see beyond the blood on his hands. And then I got the sads when Lia was like, “We have a bond, Kaden, I know, but I don’t love you in the way that you want.” MAYDAY MAYDAY SINKING SHIP (I knew it would never be her and Kaden, but I could not help myself ALL THE FEELS). ANYWAY. Kaden was such a lost, sad little puppy in this book sometimes, and all I wanted to do was give him a big hug. He’s got a good heart, but he was brought up in Venda, starved and beaten and he found a way to survive, and I could not completely fault him for that. But he did need to prove himself and make amends, and I just loved seeing him open up and stop living for revenge. He had lovely growth.

Before I started my reread of the first two books at the beginning of August (after devouring the little novella, Morrighan), I had a feeling it would end with Pauline and Kaden anyway. And omg it did. And I loved it so much, I can’t believe I ever shipped him and Lia. Though it seemed to happen quickly and without much provocation, I loved the quiet undertones of love that developed between them. And I totally believed it. It took Pauline a long time to forgive Kaden, to get over what had happened back in Terravin. That was completely to be expected, and I definitely didn’t feel as though Mary had just shoved them together to mend Kaden’s and Pauline’s broken hearts. It felt realistic and beautiful. And omg that scene where Kaden delivered Pauline’s baby will forever be one of my faves in any book. It had me laughing one moment and tearing up the next. SO MANY FEELS. If I shipped any two characters together, it was the two of them. I loved it.

As you can kinda maybe tell by the above paragraphs, The Beauty of Darkness spent A LOT of time on character development. If you’re here for action, I’m sorry to say you’ll probably be disappointed. This was one of the least action-y series enders I’ve read in the last few years. But you know what? It fit. This series was never about the action. It was always more political, more grounded in bringing the kingdoms together without bloodshed. It was more subtle about things, and there were so many like secrets and stuff. I loved seeing how everything came together, and tbh there was still a lot that wasn’t tied in a neat little bow. And I was okay with that (even though I’m insanely curious about a few things). I did not mind that the final battle was over quickly and that it ended like that. It felt like right for the story, as did Lia becoming Queen of Venda. And I loved that Kaden and Pauline went with her. I loved that Gwyneth and Berdi were also here, keeping a close watch on our darlings as they disposed of the traitors in Morrighan’s kingdom and defeated the Komizar. I honestly had a theory before reading this that Kaden would be the Komizar coming after Lia and her people. And I was not sure what he would do, and that had given me some anxiety because GAH that would have felt so ridiculous of his character after HOB. The feels during this read were intense, to say the least.

This book, man. These characters. I love them all so much, and my feelings for this series are intense. Badass, calculating Lia, who did not just rely on her gift to save her, but her smarts and her quick mind. Formidable, sly Rafe, who even when he pissed me off, I loved him for his love for his kingdom and the way he was able to blend into so many different situations. Broody, dangerous Kaden, who started out as the bad guy but who I rooted for so hard and who deserved a second chance to become someone more. Compassionate, quiet Pauline, who stepped up even when she was scared and who found in herself a strength that she didn’t even know she had. Gwyneth and Berdi, two lovely allies and ladies who were there for Pauline and Lia when they had no one left to turn to. Even Griz and Eben, Kaden’s companions, who had hated Lia but who she became friends with in spite of how they met. Also Rafe’s band of brothers who would go to the ends of the earth for their king. So many characters. So many I loved and a few I truly loathed with my entire being (aka the Komizar and Morrighan’s traitors). This book, which is easily almost 700 pages long, could have gotten so boring. But it didn’t. I seriously never wanted it to end. And while the ending was so PERFECT, it is bittersweet to me because I could read another dozen books in this series and never get tired. *sobs because it’s over*


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