Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 684 (Hardcover)
Source: Bought

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Warning: This review is super long. I have thoughts, and I need to get them out!

This is one review that is really hard to write. I have been eagerly anticipating this book for what feels like forever. Pearson gave us this super complicated cast of characters that is impossible not to love, strengthened them in book two, and had us comping at the bit for book three. Now that I have finished it, I feel almost numb from emptiness. I'm sad to see this series go because I loved delving into this world with this amazing cast of characters, but part of that emptiness comes from the fact that this book impressed me and let me down all at the same time.

The first third of this book was on point. I felt like I was immediately transported back into this world, picking up right where book two left off, on the run and ready for danger around any turn. I loved being back with this crew of characters. Things were complicated and people could die at any moment and I was living for it. And then the other two thirds of the book happened and I felt like I was reading an entirely different story. I mean, I came in knowing that this would be a depressing book. The entire series was building up to death, doom, and destruction, after all, but it's like the second half of the book was just empty of the passion found in the rest of the series.

This is in large part due to character arcs. This book is told in four POVs--Lia, Rafe, Kaden, and Pauline--as a way to allow us to see what is going on everywhere at all times. However, it felt like a great majority of the book was told in Lia's POV and the others only came in when it best suited plot progression. Now, this isn't really a complaint seeing as Lia is the main character and she underwent the most character growth of all--strengthening herself against all odds and displaying a passion and drive for destiny that borders on nothing but the utmost of bravery. The frustration with the POVs comes more from the fact that the other 3 seemed a bit hollowed out in comparison to Lia because of the focus on her.

Love triangle haters can rejoice because there isn't a love triangle in this. There is a small bit of romance in here, but that takes a huge backseat to the plot and even disappears for large portions of the book. I feel like both of our love interests underwent some form of character decimation in this book because they seemed like shells of themselves. Rafe turned into this jealous, controlling creature that wasn't able to listen and acted, at times, extremely selfishly. Gone was the understanding prince that we knew, replaced by someone who locked up those he claimed to love and respect because their desires didn't align in the moment. This frustrated me so much!

And don't even get me started on Kaden. I have always shipped Lia and Rafe because they seem like to characters that belong together, but Kaden has been a long time favorite of mine because he is so complex. Truly, it is rare to come across a character as layered as him. And in this book I feel like he was just stripped of his passion, the parts of him that made him Kaden. He just kind of rolled over and died and was replaced by someone with sparks of his past self who followed directions (uh, when does he do that?!) and stops pursuing Lia because suddenly a really unlikely match fell into his lap as an easy means to change his plot progression. I loved it whenever we got a few chapters in his head because they were the most interesting, so it killed me to watch what happened to his characterization through the eyes of other characters. It just doesn't seem right to me. I feel like this is not the Kaden I have met in previous books.

And then there's the Komizar. There are evil people and then there are dastardly villains and the Komizar is as dastardly as it gets. He is disgusting and terrible, and that is why he is widely loved by readers just like The Darkling by Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy. The Komizar is in this book for a mere couple of pages. Like, an actual handful of pages. Otherwise, he's this evil guy whispering threats from afar for more than 90% of the book. This is an epic battle between him and Morrighan and he is barely in this book! I don't want to say much more because it works me up to think of this lost opportunity, but the way his storyline ended was also disappointing. Once again, like The Darkling, we have a majorly awesome villain who deserved a brilliant end to the storyline, and it was kind of fizzled out leaving readers thinking, "that's it?"

I struggled most with the characterization in this book, which severely impacted my feelings about it. But that's not to say there are things I didn't love. I loved how nothing was easy in this book, I loved the reunions and introduction of new characters even if it was at the hands of other beloved characters not appear as often. I loved the court politics that Lia partook in because she had no choice, and I loved the spying that had to occur to make it all happen. I loved the sparks of feminism found in Lia, and the expression of the importance of family and friends. The emphasis on how family is those who you choose and not those who you are related to by blood is amazing as well. I love the final revelation of Kaden's father and how their sub-plot ended, but most of all I love that I got to step in this crazy, dark, twisted world one last time with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

In the end, this book is much like Marissa Meyer's Winter for me. Both books end two epic fantasy series that I love with all my heart. Both have plot-lines that really bother me as a reader because they don't make sense in my head, but both also have happily-ever-after's  (or some form of such a thing) and ridiculously predictable endings for all the characters I care about, and the emotional and selfish reader in me is very satisfied by that (even if my brain can't make sense of everything else). Thus, the reader buried deep in me that still has a love of cliche endings found herself smiling from ear to ear as I turned the last page of this book, tearing up at the thought that it's all over.

Thank you, Mary E. Pearson, for taking me on this wild ride.

3 stars

~*~Links~*~

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