Review: In The Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

Thursday, 1 January 2015

22887721In The Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Released: 1st November 2014
Series: The Darkest Minds #3
Published by: HarperCollins Australia
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Publisher
Pages: 485
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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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 IANN, 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.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

You learned to look up, craning your neck to gaze over the razor wire curled around the top of the fence. Otherwise, it was too easy to forget that there was a world beyond the rusting metal pen they'd thrown all of us animals into. 

In this epic conclusion to The Darkest Minds trilogy, Alexandra Bracken has once again shown that she sure knows how to execute stunning worldbuilding, complex characters and a thrilling plot. In The Afterlight is a dystopian novel that doesn't shy away from the action, and throws you right into the middle of it. For fans of the previous two books in the series, I can confidently say that this certainly didn't disappoint. 

Memory and imagination are two different beasts, processed and handled in different ways by the mind.

What I really enjoyed in this book was the more concentrated focus on the mental capabilities which Ruby and Clancy possess. It was interesting to see how Ruby utilised her 'orange' capabilities in different situations, trying to break through the mental barriers which other people held up and using them for good. She was also faced with challenges to using her 'powers', and the ethical side thinking back to what she had to do to Liam in the first book. All of these instances were described with Bracken's beautifully crafted imagery which aided in providing us readers with an insight into what Ruby can do. 

I wish I could have let myself believe that they'd kept her alive long enough to matter, but what was the point? It was easier to feel the numbness of certainty than live along the burning edge of hope.

Ruby as a character herself really grew as a person and matured in this story. She was able to take the lead of the group with Cole's help and work under pressure, along with kicking some but when it came down to it. I admired her strength, courage and selflessness throughout, and she has become one of my all-time favourite female protagonists. Aside from her, the secondary characters as always were given equal attention, which could definitely be achieved within the almost 500 pages. Despite the length, everything felt like it was necessary to build to the intense final chapters - as relationships were tested, unlikely pairings formed, and not everyone could survive. Zu, Vida, Chubs and Liam all have their own special roles to play, and it was great to see more into Zu's character especially. Vida as always had all the sarcastic remarks down-pat (which I loved), and Liam's southern charm obviously makes him hard to resist.  

These are the types of romantic feels you will be faced with. 
I saw the future with sharp clarity and it wasn't a road, it wasn't a sky, it wasn't anything beautiful. It was mud and rain and a thousand days bleeding into a stream of black. 

The real focal point of the novel is of course freeing the children in the camps, especially Thurmond which was the largest and most brutal. This is where the worldbuilding really came to shine, and you could sense that the author had taken much time and effort to create this world where children who are red, orange, green, blue or yellow are feared for their abilities. New secrets came to light regarding how they were treated, and the basis of IAAN in the first place. Government conspiracies, Clancy's manipulative attitude and new allies all made this story a thrilling one. 

"I see it in colors", I said. "A deep blue, fading into golds and reds - like fire on a horizon. Afterlight. It's a sky that wants you to guess if the sun is about to rise or set."

The message that I got from this book was one of hope. Hope that a society can change its mindset and not live in fear of the unknown or those who are different. Hope that love can be found when it is based on trust and that relationships, if they are based on a deep connection - can withstand anything. Hope that freedom can be achieved if people are determined enough to fight for it. Ruby and her comrades were at the cusp of changing their world for the better, and in all - I enjoyed every minute of watching them trying to achieve that.


In The Afterlight is the type of book that'll captivate you from beginning to end. I have been a huge fan of the series from the beginning, and now can't wait to see what Alexandra Bracken will write next!


  1. I get so nervous when it comes to series enders! But from the sounds of it, this is fantastic. :) I have enjoyed the first two in the series, though I generally find that last books in trilogies can be a bit of a hit-and-miss. Great review.

    1. It definitely is Kara! I know what you mean about the hit-and-miss factor - luckily this one worked out :)

  2. I'm so glad you loved this one! Even though it's been out for ages, I still haven't been able to get around to it. I'm really hoping that I will be able to soon though. It sounds absolutely epic! Oh and, happy new year!

    1. Hope you do get to it soon Laura, it lives up to the other books in the series really well. Have a fantastic 2015!

  3. I absolutely loved this one too Eugenia, one of the best series finales I've read actually. The dynamic between Ruby and Liam is really what set this series apart from the typical YA didn't it. Brilliant review poppet and I'm looking forward to seeing what she's working on next too <3

    1. Definitely - Ruby and Liam's relationship was so much more complex in this novel and the author really explored it well.


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