Title: In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
No. of pages: Hardback; 535
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Date Read: July 29, 2018
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. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.
When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely alliance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them — revealing the government’s unspeakable abuses in the process — is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.
But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IAAN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep to contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.
One of the main reasons why I picked this series up was because of the movie that was just released. And I’m so glad that I did. This was another one of those series that happened to breeze by me because I was in college. I’m glad that I was able to get the chance to read them now because I am absolutely in love with them and I’m so glad that I own all of them!
In The Afterlight starts right where Never Fade ends. The remnant of the Children’s League is trying to get out of Los Angeles after their bunker was destroyed. Ruby and the gang are still reeling over the loss of their friends, specifically Jude, the adorable Yellow that connected their League team together. Cole has taken over as the main leader and once Ruby figures out that other agents are planning on turning them over for the reward money, they create a plan that will help them split paths with them. Once the kids make it to the Ranch, there is so much tension and then, in true Bracken fashion, things turn a bit chaotic. Clancy won’t give them information, Liam tries to prove himself, Cole refuses to explain that he’s a Red, the kids are taking sides, camps are broken into, and camps are broken out of. All the while Ruby continues to have to make choices that will define her, either as a monster or as a human.
One of the main aspects of this book is grief. The entire series these kids have lost choices, their lives, their friends, their futures, and families. This book showed so many of these kids trying to deal with their grief and losses. But I think the part that was most profound was that for the most part, they all realized that they couldn’t deal with it alone no matter how hard they tried. It’s such a small thing when reading to pick up on, but Ruby and Cole tried to deal with their grief alone and it isolated them. It was only when they opened up to each other and others that they saw that others were grieving too. It made them remember that everyone was affected and by creating that isolation, they were hurting themselves more. This was so awe-inspiring to me because sometimes grief is brushed over in books. To me, it seemed like Bracken did such a great job at addressing it and giving solutions to cope and help others with losses that they’re going through. And, that this grief coping can translate outside of the book and can take place in real-life situations.
I also am completely taken aback by the growth in Ruby. From where we first meet her in the first book to now, it seems like she’s a completely different person, but she isn’t. She’s the same girl who tried to divert Cate and Rob away from Zu. She’s the same girl who fought fiercely against the skip tracers and happened to reveal that she was an Orange. She’s the same one who learned to control her powers in order to keep others safe. She’s the same one who learned to use her powers to keep others safe. She’s the same one who learned that she can keep herself sane and whole regardless if she used her powers or not. But by far, the most compelling growth that I saw in this character is that she learned how not to be afraid of breaking people, but was given the confidence to heal them. So many times in this series, she was so afraid of breaking people that she kept herself isolated from others. It was so great to see her really come into her own confidence that she was able to heal others brokenness and hurtful memories and breakthrough to those that couldn’t speak for themselves. She wasn’t afraid of herself anymore, but held her own and was able to become the person that Zu, Chubs, and Liam knew she was from the start.
I am completely blown away by this entire series and this book. In my opinion, this is the best book BY FAR out of the entire series. The character growth, storyline, relationship arc, and overall storytelling in this book are at an all-time high. There wasn’t a single moment for me in this book that I was bored or thought that something was missing. There was a smooth balance of action and rest. There was an insurmountable aspect of intrigue and mystery and wanting to know what was next. This is one of the top emotional roller coasters that I’ve been on this year and I’m ready for it all over again. Ruby, Liam, Zu, Vida, Chubs, Jude, and Cole (yes, even Cole) will forever hold just a tiny piece of my heart. This is definitely a series to check out when you get a chance.