In the Afterlight by Alexandra BrackenIn the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #3
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 28th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Dystopian
Pages: 535

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. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

3.5 Stars

The darkest minds never fade in the afterlight. This series was one hell of a ride (and when I say hell, I mean a there-goes-my-sanity kind of hell). Final instalments are often tricky to rate, as expectations are highest for the book in the series that’s supposed to tie up all the loose ends. While In the Afterlight did provide sufficient explanations for me to look back on the older books and go “Ahhh, so that’s why”, I thought the actual plot was somewhat disappointing after the rollercoaster that was Never Fade

Not only did I expect In the Afterlight to tie up loose ends, to provide insight into what had caused IAAN in the first place, and to let the characters grow and strengthen friendships in the fight against the government, but I also craved a fast-paced plot that would knock me off my socks. And I wanted Zu back, so badly.

Now, reality looked a little different on two accounts, but let me start with what Bracken actually delivered according to my expectations:
✓  In the Afterlight was a good conclusion in the sense that it didn’t leave the reader hanging but explained, for example, what caused IAAN and how it works. View Spoiler » I was amazed by how much neuropsychology you can find in this book if you look closely. We also learn a lot about the consequences of using Ruby’s mind control powers, which is absolutely epic in its shock factor.
✓  The characters have grown a lot throughout this series, especially Ruby. Though she still sometimes makes me want to hit my head against something hard, she has come along way from the mousy, passive girl who wouldn’t dare to use her powers out of fear. There’s tons of acts of bravery, which can be mistaken for unbelievable stupidity, but I guess desperate times call for desperate measures. Dark the overall atmosphere may be, but  In the Afterlight makes time for  peace and happiness, unlikely bondings, and familiar faces returning.
✓ Ruby gives Clancy hell. Clancy kicks Ruby’s ass. The epic duell between the two mind controllers, which was pretty uneven in earlier instalments, comes to a mind-blowing conclusion.

And now, the aspects in which In the Afterlight disappoints as a finale:
✘ The pacing is incredibly slooow. Save for the last 150 pages, it seems as though nothing truly happens in this book, for most of the plot actually takes place in the crew’s headquarters. Though this doesn’t mean the plot was a snoozefest, it seemed as though Bracken wanted to create a calm-before-the-storm atmosphere but totally overdid it.
✘ Remember what I said about strengthening friendships? Although bonding does happen, and between people I was least expecting it, there is a ton of miscommunication in this book, which is also partly responsible for the slow pacing. There’s a lot of bickering, plotting, and plotting but not actually getting anywhere.

Overall, In the Afterlight is a satisfactory conclusion as it answers most of the questions readers might have after two books, but it doesn’t excel in pacing, action, and character relationships. The series as a whole is worth 4 stars for me, and to all of you dystopia or paranormal fanatics out there, I’d recommend you give it a try.