I don’t even know where to start.
So, I read the trilogy …. and Book Three, In The After Light, was by far my favorite. Most people say that the first book is always the best but no, no, no, not in this case! Yes, The Darkest Minds was a fantastic read and it got me on the reading journey that brought me to the finale of The Darkest Minds trilogy but Ms. Alexandra Bracken’s final book, In The After Light, is a book that goes down in my Hall of Fame.
If you’re curious about the cover, so am I. For the longest time, when I looked at it, I thought it was a half-eaten fruit, like a cantaloupe or something like that. I don’t know, some greenish-yellow fruit that somebody had eaten half of and then left behind to rot for a while. I know that isn’t really what it is, now, and I see the chains around what looks like the half-eaten fruit but I have yet to learn what the cover really means. I understand the compass on the front of Never Fade and thought that was very clever! And then the symbol on the front of The Darkest Minds was just the symbol that the PSFs used, so that was easy to get. But In The After Light‘s? Not as much.
Something I loved about the wording used in the trilogy is how the titles fit together. At first, I just thought:
“The Darkest Minds? Cool name. Never Fade is sort of a weird title, considering the book doesn’t have anything to do with fading or anything … but maybe it was just a cool name the author wanted to use! Ohhhhhhh, The Darkest Minds Never Fade In The After Light. Makes sense now.”
I just thought it was cool.
Ruby, Liam, Chubs, Cole (Liam’s older brother), and many other League kids and agents have just survived a strike that the president sent into L.A., the California HQ of the Children’s League, and now they need to get out of L.A. to make it to the original HQ simply known as “The Ranch.” But that’s easier said than done. To make it safely to the Ranch, they will have to split up into different cars and hope that the plan to get all the kids over the California border, which is being heavily guarded by PSFs, will work.
(Psssst…. it does….)
Ruby and the others end up in the Ranch along with Cate Conners, a League agent and a personal friend of Ruby’s ― also the woman that broke Ruby out of Thurmond in the first place but that’s beside the point ― only to find that many of the other agents have split and have taken valuable equipment with them. So now the League will have to operate as a real Children’s league.
Cole and Ruby are anxious to start helping kids and after the discovery Ruby made about Cole in the California HQ, she finally understands why Cole is so eager to help these kids ― because he’s one of them. He is a Red, one of the few remaining free ones. Everyone else is pent up in training camps where they are becoming soldiers for the president! So wrong.
Ruby and Cole devise a plan to break into Thurmond, the oldest and the biggest of the camps, to free all the kids inside, and to get a message out to the parents. Liam, however, thinks violence is not the route to take and wants to slip into Thurmond to get footage of what they’re doing to the kids and sell it to Amplify, an underground news crew that lives for this kind of stuff. Cole thinks it’s a stupid plan and Ruby has to agree, knowing that they are far past a peaceful close to this.
Cole brings in a former senator, who has pull in Canada, and convinces her to use her contacts to get the League support on their Thurmond mission. But the senator makes a bargain with him. Before the Thurmond break out, they have to go in and break everyone out of Oasis, another work camp ― one that the senator’s daughter is being kept in. Cole agrees and gets the support they need to break into Thurmond. All looks to be going well, even up until the Oasis incursion, until Liam shows up.
Liam wasn’t supposed to be on the Oasis Op. He was supposed to stay back to Cole. However, Liam slipped out of the Ranch the night before and hired an Amplify reporter to come with him to Oasis. Together, they get into Oasis while Ruby and her team are in and they begin to film and report on everything. Ruby is beyond furious when Liam is nearly shot by one of her own team members that didn’t recognize him. She can’t believe Liam would come, knowing he could get himself and the reporter killed. More than anything, Ruby is enraged that Liam would endanger himself.
So this is what the story is like. There is lots of Ruby and Cole scheming and Liam being left out of the loop, which infuriates Liam. Offenses are made, feelings are hurt, and grudges are held, even by Zu and Vida and Chubs. However, friendships begin to mend near the end of the story, and all is going according to plan….
Until tragedy strikes.
The death of someone extremely important to Ruby rocks the boat ― rocks everything ― and now evil, conniving Clancy has found a way to get back in control. Fan-flipping-tastic. In an attempt to make sure everything continues to go according to plan, Ruby allows herself to be captured by PSFs, knowing she will be taken back to Thurmond, where she was originally brought when she was first captured by PSFs. Ruby is thrown back into the work camp and is forced to work through the pain and grief of losing someone so close to her.
Remember how in my review of Never Fade, I said I didn’t cry, but the book was sad, right?
I cried in this book. Not a lot, but I shed a tear or two.
Ruby plays her part perfectly, but will the others be on time? She left so suddenly, everything crazy around her when she was taken ― will the others have the time to get there? Can they make it? Do they even want to come for her? Even as Ruby is playing out her part, she wonders this. Are they going to come help her at all? Has something held them back? Anything could have happened and without communication, Ruby has no way of knowing.
In the stunning conclusion of The Darkest Minds trilogy, Ruby must learn to forgive herself for her abilities and must learn to trust others again.
Yeah. I think it’s awesome, too.
There’s only one thing I would have changed about this book: The ending. There wasn’t much closure to it. You still don’t know what’s going to happen. So maybe it’s set up to have a fourth book to it? Maybe Ms. Bracken thought there was a potential for the trilogy to turn into a series and left it sort of open in case she feels like writing another book. I don’t know. I just wish you knew what happened. I think the ending was a little clipped. In fact, the last few chapters were very clipped with little information. Slightly disappointing but it doesn’t bring down the average grade I’d give the book.
As I mentioned in my review of Never Fade, Zu does return in this book! Hooray! I loved the little girl. She had infinitely more personality and character in In The After Light and she was so fun to read about! She had a beautiful character arch, which I appreciate.
I also appreciate that Ms. Bracken was true to Liam’s character throughout the trilogy. I thought it was interesting in a post-apocalyptic book that the male lead was sort of carefree and nonviolent and kind and caring and everything that Liam is. He’s not overly sympathetic and isn’t against using a gun, but he’d rather use his abilities before picking up a gun and using it. He’d prefer to find the peaceful alternative. I didn’t care for that aspect of him in the beginning of the trilogy just because I thought he and Ruby were going to be so different ― too different. I thought he would pale in comparison to the coolness that is Ruby Dally.
Liam’s grinning character just made him more loved. I kept skipping ahead in the book to see if there would be more of Liam in the upcoming pages! He was witty and intelligent and had an awesome character arch. Ms. Bracken did an excellent job of making Liam’s emotions play out on his face, just as Ruby said they did. His jealousy of Ruby and Cole’s relationship was evident. Liam would often get frustrated with his brother, would snap at him, say something he probably shouldn’t, but eventually ― even if he didn’t apologize ― he would soften.
Chubs annoyed me just a little. Just barely, actually. I guess it just annoyed me that he got so mad when Cole and Ruby kept secrets from them.
NEWS FLASH! Cole and Ruby are leading the Children’s League! Just because they don’t mention their plan to you doesn’t mean they’re intentionally keeping you out of the loop! They’re just running it over with Nico and the senator before telling everyone! It keeps out confusion, buddy!
Chubs was offended that Ruby refused to tell them her plans and was even more mad that she wouldn’t tell Liam. According to Chubs, Ruby kept Liam at arm’s length. I have to disagree with Chubs in this area. Later, yes, Ruby kept Liam at arm’s length but when Chubs brought it up, it seemed irrelevant.
Other than a few annoying remarks from Chubs, his personality didn’t bother me. Chubs was still a good character and needed in many areas! Just not this particular area…
Ruby was a little careless near the end of the book, but I’m not sure if I liked this quality or disliked it. I think it was realistic, considering who she’d just lost, but for the situation that she was in? While performing an Op in Thurmond, she needed to have a clear mind and control over her abilities! Instead, she slips into the mind of any PSF that annoys her. She, like in the first book, classified herself as a Green before she could be killed for being an Orange, so if anyone in the camp realized that an Orange was around, messing with the minds of the PSFs, Ruby would be in deep trouble.
In the end, I am more than happy that I read The Darkest Minds Never Fade In The After Light. The trilogy was so good and so interesting and so thought-through! Every now and then, I could pick up some aspect that seemed hastily thrown into the storyline, or something that seemed to be changed last minute to make the story make more sense, but for the most part it was a solid book!
Ugh, I’m still so sad over who we lost in the book! He/she (because I’m so not spoiling this for you) was such an amazing character and they loved Ruby and loved the Children’s League and just tried to love everyone! I had to actually set the book down when I read the line that determined who had been killed. I was sitting on the balcony of our condo in Gulf Shores and I just looked up, took in a breath, set the book down, and walked inside.
A friend of mine who was on the porch, also reading, gave me the weirdest look and when I came back with a large glass of chocolate milk, I explained to him that a beloved character had died, and he, too, was sad.
Anyway. If you are a fan of anything post-apocalyptic, anything romance, anything thriller, anything with an awesome heroine and a new hero, please, I beg of you, pick up The Darkest Minds trilogy and read it! But remember what I said in Never Fade‘s review! If you are sensitive to strong language, I can’t suggest that you read this trilogy. Watch out for the language.
The Darkest Minds Never Fade In The After Light was a truly thrilling read that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. And to think I thought I would be bored of this book! I’m almost embarrassed to say that the synopsis of the book actually made me laugh at first. Now, my fellow Goodreads friends come back and say, “I told you you’d like the book!”
What’s on your bookshelf?