Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.
A note on spoilers: I have tried to avoid spoilers for the third book here, but I’m not entirely sure I’ve been successful–there aren’t specifics, but there is a mention of how things made me feel. If you want to be absolutely completely unspoiled, read the book first.
So. Here it is. The last book of the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. What will happen? How will our hearts be broken? Will it be a satisfying conclusion?
Answers: LOTS OF STUFF. SO MANY WAYS. YES.
Endings of series always scare me because there are so many ways they can go wrong. Sarah Rees Brennan has a pretty good track record with me, since Demon’s Surrender is not only my favorite book in that trilogy but caused me to abruptly switch ships. And indeed, Unmade resolves the story but leaves it open enough for fans to imagine future adventures.
Even if I almost threw my computer across the room because of my feels.
SRB herself has posited a theory of trilogies which goes as follows: first book, set up; second book, make out; third book, save the world. It’s worth noting that the scope here is a bit smaller. Kami and her friends aren’t trying to save the world so much as their town, their family, their friends. While grand saving-the-world adventures are fun, it’s nice to see a story that’s doing something a little different, a little more intimate. (It reminds me just a tad of Mary Stewart’s Thornyhold in that way.)
Similarly, Rob Lynburn, while a completely creepy sociopath, is not a James Bond nuke-the-world super villain. He wants Aurimere to be his. He wants Sorry-in-the-Vale to be his. He can’t see beyond his own wants to what is right for anyone else. That’s what makes him the bad guy, and also what makes him so effectively scary as the bad guy, because this point of view is all too familiar and realistic.
As with the first two books, Kami is the star of the show, although here we get more glimpses into other peoples’ points-of-view. This is nice, I think, giving us a more rounded sense of Sorry-in-the-Vale and its inhabitants. And part of Kami’s own arc is that she’s learning to see others in a more complex way, to understand that she can’t know everything about them.
Also, I am a terrible person and all but I love Lillian Lynburn more than anyone should love Lillian Lynburn. And…I still ship Jon and Lillian. JILLIAN FOREVER! (I think it’s the banter. I have no banter immunity.)
I will also admit that before I started reading, I thought to myself, “I wonder how Sarah Rees Brennan will ruin my life this time.” I also thought: “I know I’m not prepared.” But, dear readers, I had no idea how not prepared I was. I was ugly crying at one point and trying to avoid dribbling tears on my keyboard. Even the epitaphs are like tiny stabs to the heart. (Thank you for using my favorite poets, Sarah!)
In short, terrible things happen. Things that can’t be undone or (pun alert) unmade. Things that induce ugly crying. But one of the things I appreciated about the first two books is the fact that I understood why the hard things happened. Kami’s choice at the end of Unspoken had the ring of narrative inevitability–not in a fatalistic sense, but in the sense that Kami as she had been written was always going to make this choice, that to make any other would have made her false.
So on an intellectual and storytelling level, I really admire the way these big plot points are set up. They’re not out-of-the-blue. It’s a bit like Code Name Verity, when really you know what’s going to happen, even though you’re hoping it won’t. The tension comes from the knowing and the hoping and the space between them. And this works really well for me.
On an emotional level: SARAH WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT SERIOUSLY WHY.
If I have a complaint, it’s a very minor one, which is that the pacing in the Holla arc seemed a little bit off. But events there are dependent on other events, so I can also understand the necessity. And like I said, very minor when compared to the awesomeness of the rest of the book.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go pet my copy and cry some more.
Book source: review copy from NetGalley, also purchased
Book information: 2014, Random House; YA
My reviews for the other books:
Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors!