Fair warning: this is the fourth and final book in this series. Spoilers for the series are a hazard.
Senior year! One last go-around before heading off into “the real world”. Time to finish out your major, line up that post-graduation gig, get in that extra bit of murder training…
Hayes takes us out with a bang. He takes his time, but he wraps up almost all the outstanding threads: the Sons of Progress, Charles Adair, Globe’s goals, the Lander mole, saving Shelby, saving Nick, who will graduate? How will those who don’t make it meet their end? It’s a lot, and Hayes gets it allllll in.
I mention this every time I talk about Hayes’s books: they’re soooo long. This one, however, this one almost broke me. I fired up my Kindle and it predicted a 26 hour read time, and I sobbed a little bit inwardly. While Hayes’s books tend to be well-plotted–and I have to say, this was really well done because he wraps it all up–they are also poorly paced. They drag right up until the end where everything happens all at once. By the time the final fight sequences begin, I still had 5-6 hours to go.
I struggled particularly this time because I’m ambivalent about most of the characters. Vince is a Gary Stu of the first order, and I don’t care at all about Vince and Camille’s relationship. I actively dislike Mary. Roy and Herschel almost became interesting, but that thread doesn’t go anywhere. As usual, Nick is the most interesting of the bunch, but even he has some weird character beats in the story.
One strength of the series is how well Hayes traces the growth of the characters, though, you’ll absolutely find that some of the characters and relationships are retconned in the later books. (Blaine and Chad seem barely acquainted in the first book, a far cry from the way they’re relationship appears at the end of Year Four. Also, Blaine has had Angela De Soto at Lander for a year and doesn’t know that the old guy on Parent’s Day is Captain Starlight? Ha!) It’s a fair cop: Hayes started this story almost 10 years ago; things will change.
For all my complaints about this, I still enjoyed this series immensely. I am here for any books Hayes wants to set in this universe. (Please accept my humble request for moar Jeremiah, though.)