I should have known better. I really should have. And I should have kept my big mouth shut about this book. Halfway through I decided to blab to Goodreads that I was actually really enjoying this book, way more than I had the first two, and that maybe juuuuuust maybe I would read a book in this series, and by these authors, that I really, truly enjoyed.
The universe loves destroying dreams.
Seriously, the first half was really fun in a way this series hadn’t ever managed to be. Our two main characters (a hacker and a con artist) have actual chemistry with one another, the peril they are in is genuinely interesting and scary, and different than the past two. It had all the good bits of a romance story mixed with the heist genre, erring more on the side of con job stories than actual heists. For the first time, the series-long bad guy and his company actual felt like they were really a threat. Also, in retrospect, it was way more fast-paced than the first two books, which turns out to be because the authors had to compress the entire plot of one book into that first half.
The first two books in this series both revolved around two main characters, a guy and a girl, from opposite sides of a conflict involving strange alien creatures and a vast interstellar corporation cover-up. The first one also had survivorist elements. They both had entire books in which to wallow in their drama and fall in love. Sofia and Gideon only get half a book, and then it turns into a shitshow.
At just over the halfway point, the protagonists from books one and two come back into play, as does the overarching story that it turns out I don’t care about at all, and in fact, I think is really underbaked. I was pulled out of a story I was really enjoying and put into one that became increasingly poorly planned, implausible and cutesy. When all three couples were in a room together, I swear I almost barfed.
It just felt like the book wanted me to care sooooo much about Lilac and Tarver (I didn’t), and whatshisface and whatshername from the last one (I didn’t, and wanted them to leave), and wanted me to stop caring about Sofia and Gideon, because Now It Is Time For This Series To End. And when he finally shows up in person and stops being an all-powerful looming threat, LaRoux is a terrible, terrible villain. I feel like the book wanted me to think was complicated and sad, and that did not work out for it at all.
I suppose it’s my own fault for having expectations for this series that involved it not descending into predictability and schmaltz. Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t think I will be reading any more books by these authors, definitely not as a writing pair, and probably not on their own, either (I also didn’t enjoy Kaufman’s recent book that she wrote with Jay Kristoff).