This book has been a long time coming! It’s the final one in the series. And book 2 ended with a crazy cliffhanger. I really loved Pandemonium and went into this book with extremely high expectations. Oliver, again, did not disappoint. This author just knows how to write a dystopia. Seriously, does she teach classes?
Book 1 was all about discovering what love is and learning that it is something worth fighting for. Book 2 is about loss and realizing that love can hurt and do terrible things, but that it is still better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all. It’s about recovery and moving on to new loves. And then this book 3 is all about survival –surviving love and all of its turns.
I am about to SPOIL book 2, so stop reading now if you have not read Pandemonium yet. Book 2 ended with Lena and Julian escaping to the wilds. After a long time Lena finally learns how to love again, except…in come backs Alex, who we all believed to be dead. This book starts right after the last one finishes. Lena and her crew of invalids are in the wilds, deciding on what their next move should be. Her friends don’t just believe in love, but they believe in choice, and freedom. They want to make things better and they want to be involved with the Resistance in any way they can.
Too bad for them that the government is now infiltrating the wilds. At every turn are more and more dead. Families, houses, and even whole towns of people living in the wilds are mowed down and destroyed by the government. And while everyone Lena is with (Alex and Julian included) want to aid the resistance and put an end to the devastation, getting to a destination where they can actually help becomes more and more difficult.
Unlike the last book where chapters went back and forth between two time periods (which was genius), this book goes back and forth between Lena and her old best friend from the first book, Hana (also genius). Hana’s chapters revolve around the days leading up to her wedding with the mayor. At first it’s so hard to read these chapters because I remember Hana as being the loud, brave, and sometimes careless best friend. Now, she’s complacent, submissive, and kind of dull. That is until she sees someone from her past and decides to bring food to the poor, rebel against her abusive fiancé, research her fiance’s past wife, and come to terms with the prospect that the cure might not have actually cured anything for her.
When the chapters follow Lena fighting, escaping bears, running for her life, and even encountering her mother for the first time in years, there’s the whole love triangle thing in the background. Alex has a new girl to occupy his time. Though it’s obvious to everyone but Lena, that he can only ever love one girl. She thinks he hates her now. And she finds herself trying to love Julian, trying to move on from Alex, and trying to put the past behind her, as a certain friend (Raven) advises her to do. But, she can’t. She can’t tell Julian that she loves him back. She keeps trying to block out how she really feels
And Hana keeps trying to remember how to feel.
There’s a lot of drama in this one between wedding preparations, bombings, rebellions, wall climbing, fires, and family reunions. And everything ends back where it begins, in Portland. When the two friends meet up again, they are both two completely different people. And for once in my life, I could make no predictions. I had no idea what would culminate from their eventual meeting. I had no idea!
And I think my favorite thing about Oliver is this: I can never guess what she will do next. She is not afraid to kill people off. And she is not afraid to end things how they should end. Really, I was blown away and impressed how things ended. Even though, I had to double check and make sure the book actually finished. No way was I missing a single moment. I was shocked and in awe at what happened after the two friends met up.
Oliver can also write so perfectly at times. I can see this book being quoted and quoted to the maximum amount of quotes. And there’s some lines I just can’t not share. For instance:
I look away, toward the hundreds and hundreds of people who have been driven out of their homes, out of their lives, to this place of dust and dirtiness, all because they wanted the power to feel, to think, to choose for themselves. They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie –that we never really choose, not entirely. We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another. We have no choice but to step forward, and then step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all. But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing. Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending: that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.” (Page 183).
I actually read, and re-read this passage several times, interrupting my continuing the novel to just soak up these words! Seriously, these words gave me goose bumps.
I was this close just now to quoting the last page, but decided against it. The last passage of the book is just as beautiful and it sums up the spirit and overall feeling of the whole book! It’s another one that I had to read over and over, to soak it up like a sponge, to hopefully never forget. I can see some folks not enjoying the ending, but I did. The ending has only spiked my already high appreciation for Lauren Oliver.
I’ve read reviews that talk about the love triangle in here sort of taking the back seat to all of the rebellion and action. But, I have to disagree. Even in the scenes where people are annihilated and walls are destroyed, the love triangle is always there in the background. And this is the best kind of triangle: one that is always there, but that can blend in with the sky of the utter destruction of everything else.
This was one epic, strong, and emotional finale to the series. If you get a copy of the first printing of this book, there will also be a short story in Alex’s point of view at the end. And that story made things even more intense. How can there be a better love story than a story that takes place in a world where love is taken away from everyone? These books had a great concept. The characters were believable and so strong! The writing was superb and goose bump inducing. Oliver has earned my respect yet again. This gets a 10/10. What are you waiting for? Go read it.