Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Talk about ending my reading year with a bang; Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi blew me, and my expectations, away. It was everything I could ever ask for in a book, and the stories will stick with me for the rest of my life.

“The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.”

This is, hands down, the best family saga I’ve ever read, and this is only Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel! In three-hundred pages, Yaa Gyasi shows us seven generations in fourteen different points of view; each of which will leave you haunted, and start important discussions about the world we live in today.

This book leaves a powerful message about immigration and our views on it in today’s world. For this alone, it should be required reading. 2017 is going to be a very important year; we all need to educate ourselves not only about current events, but also events of our past. America is a melting pot, and it is a beautiful thing that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. We need to stop segregating, and begin embracing.

This book even touches on the broken cycle that is the war on drugs, and police brutality. Yes, slavery was abolished in America in 1865, but that truly only abolished it on paper. Instead, whites incarcerated blacks for looking the wrong way, and forced them to do their punishment/sentences with more “legal” manual labor. This book heavily talks about the coal mining era and how terrible our journey was to make America “great”. Seriously, if you read this book and still say “All Lives Matter” I will personally punch you in the throat.

“Evil begets evil. It grows. It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your own home.”

There is also a strong underlying emphasis on nature vs. nurture, which readers won’t be able to ignore. Seeing traits getting passed down and seeing the similar mistakes each side on this family tree is so interesting.

The biggest of all these important messages is probably about the main theme that is the slave trade. How people think that even in 2016 it is still okay to own people is astonishing. How slavery impacts every generation, and pretending that it never happened doesn’t help us grow or become better. Slavery, and the inexplicable horrors and devastation it creates, has to be talked about, and taught more accurately about. We have to learn from the past to create a better and equal future, where people aren’t forced into the roles they are given.

“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”

I loved all the characters and all their impactful points of view, but I couldn’t help but love Ness a little more than the rest. In only twenty pages, she will stay in my mind and heart forever. She was so strong, so brave, and so very heartbreaking. I would be so incredibly proud to have someone like her in my family tree.

Honestly, I wish every white American could read this, and see these generations and the struggles they did not ask for, but were forced upon them, and learn. This would open the eyes of so many people, if only they would start their journey to battle the racism and the hate that is still so prevalent today. I know I sound like a broken record, but this book is so important.

Homegoing is a story unlike any other I’ve ever read; as stated above, we follow the seven generations of two half-sisters who never even got the chance to know one another. Both of their lives start in what will eventually be Ghana, a country on the West Coast of Africa. And even though they are born in a very close proximity to each other, they are from different tribes.

One is married to a British man of great importance and they live together in a communal castle that is a hub for slave trade. While one of the sisters gets acquainted with her new life away from her tribe, the sister she never knew is getting prepared in that same castle, but to be sold out of the insufferable dungeons below.

From there we get to see the different threads that originated from these two star-crossed sisters. And even though you only get to spend about twenty pages with each family member, you can’t help but love them all. This book is so intelligent, and so well plotted. Yaa Gyasi deserves every dollar she received for this book before it was published, and this book deserves every ounce of hype it receives, because it is so important and impactful.

I think it needs to be said, that I think the best way to read this book is to read it two chapters at a time. This makes it so that you will read roughly the same time period of the two different family trees of the half-sisters. Sometimes, some of the old characters show up with pretty important cameos in their descendant’s points of view, and each time it felt like Christmas morning. I also became addicted to looking at the family tree every new point of view. I couldn’t help it, this story was so immersing and I was so addicted.

“The need to call this thing “good” and this thing “bad,” this thing “white” and this thing “black,” was an impulse that Effia did not understand. In her village, everything was everything. Everything bore the weight of everything else.”

Please give the book a shot. It is worth all the hype and will change your life. I will forever cherish this book and its message, while gifting it to all my loved ones. If I could only recommend one book in 2016 it would be Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It is truly nothing short of a masterpiece.

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3) by Ilona Andrews

Everything IA touches turns to gold, and this series is no exception. The Innkeeper Chronicles feel so cozy, yet are so action packed and have so much swoon-worthy romance. IA somehow weaves a story with the perfect balance of mystery, filled with high-tense situations, with all these unique concepts, and makes it feel like home. I can’t recommend this series, or this writing duo, enough.

This series is written in weekly installments that IA posts for free. I, being the masochist that I truly am, always wait until it is actually published in book form to review, but it is still pretty freakin’ awesome that this is a series that they write for their fans out of the kindness of their hearts.

Without giving too much away, and because we are three books into this series now, the first book in this series, Clean Sweep, stars a innkeeper, Dina, who runs a magical inn that allows life forms from all over the Galaxy to stay for whatever period of time they need. Not everyone has the magical gifts to be able to run their own inn, but Dina’s parents owned their own inn while she was growing up, so she is very familiar with this magical safe place that is hidden away from the rest of Earth.

Innkeepers also have immense power, especially on their inn’s property. On top of being able to command the house at your every whim, because you have to be able to make your guests comfortable, which means constantly changing the rooms and layout to their needs, innkeepers have the responsibility to keep their guests safe, and have a whole magical property at their disposal.

Yet, an inn’s ability to thrive and live is constantly syncing with the guests that are needed for it to house. In the first book, The Innkeeper Chronicles, this is very apparent, but now that we are three books in, the inn is prospering, thriving, and very powerful.

Each book deals with a new threat to the inn, or its guests, but the constant theme of the whole series is that Dina’s once innkeeper parents have gone missing. Dina keeps a picture of them on display right when you walk into her inn, no matter how the layout of the inn changes, in hopes that someone will recognize them and be able to give her information. So far, her quest results have turned up empty.

“Husbands can fall out of love. Friends can betray you. But when you’re stuck in a hellhole far from home, your family will move heaven and earth to get you back.”

But in One Fell Sweep she gets a proposition from a new alien that wishes to stay at the Gertrude Hunt for information on her parents’ whereabouts that she cannot help but accept. Even if that means risking everything and everyone she loves.

And when I said everyone that Dina loves, I truly mean that, because this book introduces a few new characters that would be impossible for you not to fall in love with!:

Seriously, every hiss turned me into a bigger puddle of goo.

“I have run, my lord. And I would do it again, if the circumstances called for it. Honor can’t keep my daughter alive, but I can.”

And if you’ve been following my reviews of this series, you’ll know that Arland is, hands down, my favorite character. (When will I grow out of my brooding vampire phase?) And seeing his character arc take a very unexpected turn made my heart melt and my ovaries swoon.

Can we also talk about how this book takes place during Christmas? Like, this book already feels magical and is impossible for the reader to not want to be staying and living in Dina’s inn, but the timeline correlating with our present day was something so amazing. I couldn’t help but be enthralled with this book, in this world, and with these characters once again.

“You taught me the meaning of loneliness, because when I don’t see you, I feel alone.”

Seeing Dina grow not only as an innkeeper, but as a person, is so rewarding. I cannot wait to see the direction the fourth book takes, and how Dina and Sean are going to proceed with their new information, regarding the Ripper of Souls.

IA is seriously in a league of their own for Urban Fantasy, but, honestly, they are dominating their take on Sci-Fi, too. With all the different planets and species, and then their greater message of acceptance and love with organisms that are different or misunderstood in this Galaxy, too? Then add in all their original and unique concepts. Like, this wife and husband writing duo are such a blessing to the literary world. #blessed

Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan

“Each new person we welcome into our hearts is a chance to evolve into something radically different than we used to be.”

This was my favorite volume, to date. And I say this in all of my Saga reviews, but Brian K. Vaughn is such a genius to make the voice of this comic the adorable daughter we know and love named Hazel. I feel more for this little hybrid cinnamon roll more than I do for most people I know in real life. Seriously, I want nothing but the best for her and I will constantly buy this comic just to ensure her happiness.

This bind-up also had my favorite page of any issue of this comic yet:

With that caption, too, this page honestly broke me.

I think that’s the main theme of these six issues: sacrifice. And Brian K. Vaughn doesn’t hold back with the feels. At least one, if not all, of the different examples of sacrifice will resonate with you, and it will hurt. Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, or just a friend, Brian K. Vaughn is a master at empathy and it really shows on these pages.

Loss is never easy, but loving someone with the sum of who you are isn’t easy either.

I’m now going to break down each chapter in this bind up. I mostly do this so I can go back and refresh what has happened in which specific issue. There will be SPOILERS, so please do not continue if you have not read this graphic-novel, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, or Vol. 4!

We are thrown back into this amazing world, and then are immediately reminded of the terrible things that happened at the end of Vol. 4. Dengo is still with Alana and Klara, and has full control over Hazel and Prince Robot IV’s baby. They all have been separated from Marko for three months now. Marko is with Prince Robot IV, Gus (the cutest character in the world), and Yuma (Alana’s old drug dealer). Far away, the Will is still sick, but Gwen, the Brand, Sophie, and Lying Cat are looking for a dragon to collect magical sperm that will heal him.

Dengo tells a terrorist organization, The Last Revolution, where they are located and they come to take a look at Hazel to see if she is really the product of two people who are forbidden to breed. Dengo suddenly realizes that he has probably made a grave mistake by telling them their location. Meanwhile, Yuma finds more of the drug called fadeaway, and she and Marko decide to try it.

Marko and Yuma got a bad batch of fadeaway and are being haunted by their pasts. Gus and Prince Robot IV finds them, sees that they are both probably going to die from the drugs, and have to make a call to find out how to save them.

The Brand and Sophie have a heart to heart, where the Brand lets it slip that her real name is Sophie, too! The Stalk’s brother finds them and gives them an ear drum that is supposed to help them track her killer. He then gives them a tip on how to locate the last remaining male dragon, so they can collect his sperm. The Last Revolution has found a buyer for Hazel. Marko and the gang’s ship is under attack by the Royal Guard. There is a gas leak, which Gus was going to sacrifice himself to fix, but Yuma does instead.

Upon talking to the buyer, The Last Revolution realizes they are no longer going to be able to work with Dengo, because of his race. Dengo finally does what is right, and tries to help Alana. Marko and the gang barely get away from the Royal Guard, and because Gus has been tracking Friendo, Hazel’s pet walrus, they crash land in that direction. The Brand, Gwen, Sophie, and Lying Cat finally find the cave that the male dragon is residing in, and find him in a very compromising position. Sophie feels responsible for the Will’s injury, so she wants to collect the specimen, but, sticking with the theme of sacrifice, the Brand ends up dying to save Sophie.

Because of the crash landing, Prince Robot IV looks in pretty bad shape. Hazel is with Klara, while Alana is carrying Prince Robot IV’s baby and is with Dengo trying to escape the ship because they think Hazel and Klara are already off of it. Obviously, they end up being wrong and Hazel and Klara blast off in the ship with what is left of The Last Revolution people. Marko finally meets back up with his wife after being away for so long (this is the scene of my favorite art panel). Prince Robot IV takes matters into his own hands, and kills Dengo. Sophie and Gwen are able to heal the Will, who wakes up very angry, because he feels like his sister died trying to save him. And then the mother of all cliffhangers happens, when we see Hazel in school with other hybrid children!

“Together, my parents had learned to be much more than “the sum of their parts”, whatever that means. Separately, they were kind of just a mess.”

Saga is so very good, and so very addictive. Again, it proves why it is the best graphic-novel out there right now, and I cannot wait to continue on with Vol. 6.

Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is a beautiful Sci-Fi story about a girl who leaves her family and their dreams for her behind, because she has much bigger dreams for herself.

“We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.”

This novella received quite a bit of hype at the end of last year, and I’ve been meaning to read it since it released, but after winning a Nebula and a Hugo I knew I couldn’t let 2016 go by without reading it. Plus, look at that cover. I mean, it’s honestly to die for.

Binti feels comfort with numbers and logic. She has been accepted not only to the best university in the world, but she has been accepted as the first Himba student. After escaping her desert home on Earth, where everything feels comfortable and she is highly praised as being the most intelligent member of her community, she finds herself among people who are very different than herself and most of those people openly give their opinions on their differences.

Eventually she makes friends with her soon to be fellow students. Binti is one of five-hundred passengers on a ship headed to the university, until a jellyfish-like alien race called the Meduse board their ship without mercy.

Binti finds herself in a very scary and unusual position where she has to take the customs of her people, the knowledge from her family, and her belief for her own future to be able to change the world forever.

While reading this, I kept thinking about how wonderful this book would be for middle grade readers. Religious and cultural acceptance is a concept that is never too early to start teaching your children. There are so many beautiful references to different cultures that really puts a heavy emphasis on their importance. We take for granted the beauty behind the rituals and customs of different cultures, when we really should be celebrating them.

Yet, the juxtaposition is equally as beautiful with the reminder that we are all free to try or to embrace a new culture without feeling shame, nor should we be exiled for turning our backs on the culture we were inherently born into if we were to venture out and try a new custom.

Like I said, this book makes a huge statement about acceptance and how we can miscommunicate with others unintentionally. The message is truly beautiful, and it is no wonder this book has made such an impact and won so many awards; Binti truly is a beautiful message that more people need to hear.

Tor is seriously publishing some amazing novellas lately, too. Binti and Every Heart a Doorway are both phenomenal, and I can’t wait to read more of their stories, especially with the diversity that both of those novellas have inside of them.

Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms, #5) by Morgan Rhodes

Out of all the feelings I expected to have while reading Crystal Storm I never thought disappointment would be one of them, or the most prominent. Crystal Storm was, hands down, no question, my most anticipated book of 2016. It was even on my rough draft list of “best books published in 2016” because I was so confident it would be perfection incarnate. Oh, how wrong I was.

Instead of perfection, we got plot holes, unnecessary angst between Cleo and Magnus, a cliffhanger ending that felt like Empire of Storms part two, and twists that I feel bad even calling twists because they came out of nowhere and were so unexpectedly bad. I’m so let down that I’m actually at a loss for words.

And what makes it worse is that this book has Magnus on the cover. How can anything with a picture of Magnus Damora be less than perfection? I mean, I know 2016 was a bad year for most of us, but this… this I never saw coming.

Anyways, this is the fifth book in the Falling Kingdoms series that, until this point, have only gotten better and better. This series follows four young adults and their different inner struggles for power, vengeance, and love. We also have some side characters along for the ride. A lot of people compare this series to a young-adult Game of Thrones, and I think that description is pretty accurate.

One of those four main characters, Magnus is one of my favorite characters ever written. His internal struggle, but the way the others perceive him from his outward actions, is one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life. He is, and always will be, my little cinnamon roll that is far too good for this world. He alone is the reason this book is getting three stars and not two.

“I want you,” he whispered against her lips. “I want you so much I may die from it.”

Seriously, all I want for Christmas is Magnus Damora. Please, Lord, help me with this unhealthy thirst for a fictional character.

The only person, besides the perfect Magnus, that I even overly enjoyed was Amara. Like, I understand she was sort of the villain, even though now her dynamic is quite shifted (oh please, Felix, give me the good angst.) My favorite types of villains are the villains that make sense, and Amara, to me, makes perfect sense. She comes from a long line of female oppression, and she is finally able to pave her own path. Seeing the continued abuse by her own subjects, just because of her gender, made for a really good read, and she really wormed her way into my heart. I have nothing but high hopes for her (and Felix) for the final installment.

“It is never too early for girls to learn to speak their minds. It’s a habit that will make them braver and stronger as they grow up.”

Surprisingly, Lucia’s POV was pretty enjoyable, too. I even shed a few tears while a certain prophecy was being told and acted out. Jonas was also amazing, and I loved how he stepped up. Also, he always knows what to say. Both of these characters really stood out among all of the forced twists and plot devices.

I actually hated a lot of characters in this book: I hated Nic; he’s such a little weasel. I hated Taran; talk about more unnecessary angst. I borderline hated Ashur, just because of his action at the end with Cleo. I still hate Gaius, because nothing has changed even though the story wants you to believe it has. And I obviously hated the out of the blue villain that Morgan Rhodes decided to sloppily write in.

Elena, Cleo’s deceased mother, is obviously a key to much more that we don’t realize yet. Cleo is most likely going to turn out to be even more of a special snowflake from the events that took place at the end of this book. But as long as she doesn’t keep starting stupid, pointless drama, and keep pushing the paragon that is Magnus away, I won’t hate her.

I mean, even with all the disappointments this book had, I’m still too invested to stop right before the final installment, but I for sure won’t have as high of hopes as I did for Crystal Storm, and it won’t be making any of my anticipation lists.

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is truly the master of book endings.

“Time was too finite; no matter how much of it you had with someone you loved, when the end came, it wasn’t nearly enough.”

Seriously, I was rolling my eyes so hard at the predictability of this book all the way through the first 75% that I was so sure I was going to end up giving this book a two star rating. Then, she went and blew my mind with this ending.

Like, my heart can’t deal with the roller coaster ending that was this book. I was ugly crying for an hour straight. I couldn’t even believe I questioned J.R. Ward, AKA: Queen. She has proven, with fourteen books now, that she truly is the master of Paranormal Romance, and this book was no exception.

Also, I know I’ve been screaming this at you for many installments of this series now, but…. LAYLA AND XCOR’S ROMANCE IS EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED! My prayers have finally been answered with the confirmation that book fifteen, The Chosen, will be all about my OTP! *high pitch squeals forever*

The Beast surrounds all of the Brothers, the Chosen, and everyone linked to them in-between, but it mostly centers on Rhage, the beast himself, and his wife Mary. They have been through a lot, and I mean a lot, but they seemed to be in a happy and safe place, until Rhage almost dies, willingly.

(Since this is book fourteen, the rest of this review will have very minimal spoilers, since it’s almost impossible to say anything this far into this series.)

Yes, willingly. Rhage’s unhappiness was being caused by of the fact that he and Mary will never be able to conceive a child together. As we all know, it is very hard to even get pregnant in this vampire world, and it almost always results in loss of the child, the mother, or even both sometimes. Yet, even with all the risks and possible heartbreak, it sometimes does happen. Unfortunately for Rhage and Mary, Mary will never, ever be able to carry a child, and even though they seemed to be somewhat at peace with this, it becomes apparent very early on in this book that they are not.

Mary has been working with a young and abused victim named Bitty, who soon becomes an orphan right before Mary’s eyes. This makes Mary and Rhage’s struggle even more apparent, and makes them question their happiness. Oh, and Bitty is actually too cute for words. I loved her curious and positive attitude, especially with the events that had taken place in her life. Whether it was grocery shopping or discovering the word “Mom”, she melted my heart.

“Rhage! You have a dragon! A pet dragon! I got to rub his tummy!”

I should also probably state that Rhage has never been close to being one of my favorite Brothers. As much as I love Mary and find her personal story so endearing, Rhage and the constant talk about how he is the best looking Brother really gets on my nerves. I think the main reason it took me so long to read this book after its release was purely the fact that I didn’t want to read another book about Rhage.

But, like I said above, this book is far from only being about Mary, Rhage, and their need to fill a void.

My favorite part of this whole book was the absolutely perfect and adorable unconventional family dynamic with Layla, Quinn, and Blay, and, more importantly, the immediate and unwavering acceptance and support. God, just thinking about this dynamic warms my heart! Yes, Layla is still pregnant with twins, and doing everything in her power for a healthy birth. She’s also doing everything in her power to not think about Xcor, and failing miserably might I add.

I know J.R. Ward gets a bad rep because of all the erotic elements and moments in her books (my momma didn’t raise no prude), but this woman writes so much wonderful diversity! Seriously, we have a good amount of different races, disabilities and religions, but the diversity with sexual orientations is nothing short of outstanding! I wish more people would give these books a chance, because J.R. Ward’s talent isn’t stunted and she just continues to grow as an author. I will always support all her different series, because she deserves a standing ovation, seriously.

I also know these books surround a bunch of brooding, alpha males, but there were so many feministic themes in this book, too! I’m talking about blatant statements about power struggles and feminism that warmed my heart to no end. The discussion on motherhood and women feeling obliged to have children, women’s struggles getting the same jobs and recognition as men, women being not physically as strong as men, especially the Brothers, but working around it and making up for it in other areas (huge shout out to Payne, who’s impact is totally going to have repercussions); it’s all there and so much more. Again, I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for J.R. Ward.

As many of you may know, my favorite Brother is Zsadist, and his parts of this story really broke me, too. His first part as a father seeing everything going on, and being reminded of Bella and the blessing of having her. Then second, his part in the constant reminder of his past and how far he has come in the healing process. God, my heart. This is truly a once in a lifetime series, with so much constant world and character building.

My second favorite, and very surprising, part was Assail’s story-arc! I didn’t think he’d be able to win me over, but here I am, completely won over. I cannot wait for the further developments with his character, after the ending of this book. I can’t wait to see what Marisol has been up to, and I can’t wait to see more expansion with Throe! Hopefully, at the same time! *wink*

And speaking of book endings, oh, Scribe Virgin, help us all.

I know this is a huge series, and the commitment seems daunting, but these books are worth every page and every penny. I can’t recommend this series, these characters, these stories, or this author enough.

The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3) by Erika Johansen

“This, I think, is the crux of evil in this world, Majesty: those who feel entitled to anything they want, anything they can grab.”

I honestly feel like I don’t know how I feel about this series. There is so much good in this series, and such a strong sense of feminism, which brings up a lot of important and not commonly discussed topics: the need for birth control and women to be able to protect themselves, rape culture, child abuse, human trafficking, the brain washing that can happen with religion and fear, body image issues and body shaming. Yet, this series just never enthralled me the way it did others. In fact, I gave The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling three stars, too.

And that’s truly how I feel about this book series: It’s good, and has some really unique concepts that blew me away, but it is also long winded, has some plot holes. It never grew into anything that I would cherish, recommend, or want to reread in the future; it was just a passable fantasy series, with strong female representation that I appreciated.

I know this is the final installment of this series, but I’ll try to give a non spoiler synopsis: Kingdoms are warring and kingdoms are breaking apart from their rulers. Corruption and greed are at an all-time high, and the church is trying to seize all the power. This world is set in the future of our world, but everything is set back and it feels like medieval times. Our main protagonist, Kelsea, has the ability to see different perspectives from the past, while trying to make a better future for her current world, even though that seems impossible. People refuse to learn from the past mistakes of the world, and evil always tries to triumph good, in any way possible. (Not to self: Try your hardest to not talk about the 2016 Presidential Election, Melanie.)

As some sort of disclaimer, I will say that the topic of religion in this book is going to make quite a few people upset or uncomfortable. Erika Johansen doesn’t shy away from one of her main protagonist’s beliefs, whatsoever, and paints religion in a very negative light. I was fine with the very negative view on religion, because fear makes people do terrible things, and everyone is entitled to their own feelings and opinions, but it did become a little overwhelming for me. There are bad, evil people in every walk of life, and those people will always try to manipulate others to be evil with them by using fear, it isn’t just in churches. Obviously, the author is a well educated woman, and knows this, but I just had to put my two cents in, because I think this book could ruffle a lot of feathers with its portrayal of the two religious cults groups.

“And what was so important about blood anyway? She had just cut ties with the woman who’d borne her, and it had been the right decision.”

My favorite thing about this book is that it talks about something that is somewhat rare: the feeling that we, as humans, feel like blood makes us connected. This book really touches on how you are not the sins your parents have committed, and that sometimes it is truly best to cut toxic people out of your life. Not to get too personal here, but seeing Kelsea’s inner struggle with that really touched me on a level I can’t even write about. For that alone, this book will always have a place on my bookshelves.

“The tie of blood is only as strong as you want it to be. Some parents are poison, and it’s best to simply let them go.”

This book actually, surprisingly enough, does have a squeaky clean ending. Like, the reader will be left with many questions and it leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a clean cut ending that I didn’t see coming. That being said, I really disliked the ending. I actually think it will be a polarizing love it or hate it ending, but my gut feeling tells me most people will dislike it. This book was a lot of world building, a lot of character development, and just a lot of work in general, to have a very anticlimactic ending. I feel like the author might have bit off a little more than she could chew. I mean, this series is very intricate, and had some pretty strong villains, and I think the ending she chose was almost necessary, even though I very much disliked it.

I also know the ending made me feel very uncomfortable for Kelsea, and I hate that I’m left with only being able to hope for her well being in her new and very uncertain future.

To end on a positive note, I do believe if you’re still upset about the 2016 Presidential Election (I mean, who isn’t?) this would be a very impactful book for you. Even though I stated that I only liked this book, and will stand by my three star rating, the discussion on what people will do when they are being governed by fear is very important and very eye opening. I think many people in this world would gain a great deal of insight if they picked up this book series.

Now I’m going to go into some MAJOR SPOILERY discussions! Please DO NOT continue reading if you have not completed this book, read The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling, and do not wish to be spoiled!

Okay, I feel like there is way too much to discuss without mentioning some spoilers. I’m just going to talk about a few key individuals, and how their reveals/arcs made me feel:

Row Finn – AKA: The Orphan, or dude that lives in the fire. Like, I don’t know about you all, but I could see him being William Tear’s kid from the start of Katie’s past being told. His being evil just for the sake of being evil got really old, too. And I’m all for girls having sex with whoever they want, whenever they want, but I was actually disgusted that Katie slept with him.

The Fetch – AKA: Gavin. Man, talk about writing a hot, mystery man and completely tearing him apart and making him look like such a weak man. Like, I’m not even upset about his character; Erika Johansen did an amazing job destroying my previous image of him, and I don’t think that’s easy to do, so bravo. My only complaint about his character destruction is that I feel like in the previous books, we are to believe he will play a pivotal role in the ending, since he is such a mysterious man with all these secrets, but it ended up just being a flop.

The Red Queen – I loved her relationship with Kelsea in this book. I felt like in a The Queen of the Tearling she was being written to look like an evil queen, and to make us hate her, but she was pretty likable in this book. I have a weak spot for helpless evil queens, I guess.

Asia – I kept thinking that Erika Johansen was going to write a spin-off about this child assassin! Her devotion to do what’s right, her being a child victim of sexual and physical abuse and facing it to overcome it, her courage in the Creche – these are all such amazing things that completely hooked me and made me so excited for the possibility of a spin-off in this world! Unfortunately, the ending of this book made that outcome look impossible.

Mace – Um… I actually hated him in this book. *Gasp*, I know, I’m terrible. But as soon as that plot twist with Kelsea’s mother came out, I was so disgusted with him. Seriously, he’s dead to me. Also, Kelsea’s reveal about her father was the most infuriating thing about this whole book. Like, I wasn’t having any of that scene with “Lady Chilton” whatsoever.

Pen – Pen is the other character that I feel Erika Johansen killed without killing. He can’t be Kelsea’s guard because…. he loves her? Like, what kind of backwards logic is going on here? Then, in the new and better world Kelsea ends up achieving, my heart literally wept. I’m not saying that the female lead has to end up with a male to be happy, but with everything Kelsea has been through in her life, her ending up with Pen in this new world would have been enough for me to be happy. I don’t mean they had to be married with three kids, but Pen, or Andrew, being single and willing to hang out with Kelsea would have turned this whole damn ending around in my eyes.

Father Tyler – Or do I mean Brother Tyler, now? Either way, he’s amazing and a perfect little cinnamon roll, and saved the whole damn world. I actually wanted to scream at Kelsea when she didn’t want to talk to him in her new world. I’m like, girl, if anyone is going to believe your crazy story – it is going to be his ass.

Ewen – He is the other perfect little cinnamon roll in this series. I don’t have much to say about him, but I completely loved reading about him and his heroism, and couldn’t write a review without mentioning him.

Brenna – God, I loved Brenna’s character arc in this book. I loved reading her heartbreaking past, and realizing that she grew up in the Creche, absorbing the pain of others. God, it still hurts me to think about. Like I said, some parts of this series are honestly 11/10.

Javel – As much as I freaking loved Allie Alice, Javel’s story-line was pointless. Like, yeah, we got to see him unhealthily cope with losing someone, and coming out of alcohol addiction, but this story would have been 100% fine without his arc.

I could touch more on Kelsea, Katie, Jonathan, Lily and William, but I don’t really feel like I need to. The shock factor of Kelsea being able to change the past, and then have to deal with numerous butterfly effects was pretty overwhelming, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it, and I might never know how I feel about it. But I do know I wish Kelsea the best, and I hope she finds the peace she deserves, because she now has to live in a world where no one knows her sacrifice but her.