This series is such a mixed bag. I loved the first book. I found the whole world enchanting. And as the series went on, despite some hang-ups, I fell for the characters and the way they all pulled together gradually. But in the end, each book is just full of diminishing returns. Also, this is the end of the series. At least, the end of the stories about Meg and Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard . . . but I am left pretty unsatisfied by it.
All of the things that annoyed me slightly (but not enough to really hamper my enjoyment) were very much present here. The weird repetition of certain phrases. The focus on minutia. Slow and anticlimactic plot. And on top of that, the frustrated sense that this story is over, and the whole last book feels wasted. If this had been just another installment, I probably wouldn’t have minded it so much, but as a conclusion? Bah.
I appreciated the way that Bishop wanted to focus on the effects of the slaughter by the Elders last book, and showing a way forward for mixed communities of Elders and humans, and there were some moments in here that were full of genuine enjoyment, but for the first time, those moments were overshadowed by just this sense of the book surrounding them being incredibly weak and unfulfilling.
Jimmy (Monty’s brother) is the villain, and he is effective as a villain until you get inside his head, and then he’s just a vile moron. I never believed for a second that he would cause any lasting harm to the Courtyard or Meg or whatever. So much real estate devoted to focusing on him, when I wanted more resolution for Tess and Nyx, and Monty and his family, and Meg and Simon. Of course Meg and Simon. SPOILERS They finally agree to become mates at the VERY end of the book, which is literally just a paragraph of them trying kissing for the first time, and finding they like it very much. It was a very nice paragraph, I will admit, but then the book is over. This feels very deliberate on Bishop’s part, so I’m not even sure I can fault it. But it’s not what I wanted from the story.
This review is probably pretty incoherent. I’m just typing whatever pops into my head, and I only finished the book about five minutes ago, so I haven’t really had a chance to process. All in all, I’m not upset I read this series, despite its whimper of an ending, but I wish the last couple of books had been as good as the first, and not just Bishop reiterating the same things over and over again, leaning heavily on things that had worked for her in the past in exactly the same ways, dangling Meg and Simon’s relationship, and giving us barely any resolution for pretty much anything. I know some people will welcome this, because they can imagine their own endings, and I’m usually okay with that sort of thing, but in this case, I wanted even just a little bit more.