First of all, I liked it. And I liked it better than the second one. It felt so comfortable to be back in England (and at Watford!) with these characters, and I was satisfied by all their endings, even the ones I didn’t see coming. But it also gave me a couple things I’ve been wanting since book one, so on that front I was very happy as well. There was resolution for Baz’s identity issues, and Simon’s as well, and the big secret of Simon’s parentage (and his remaining family!) was finally aired out. Simon and Baz make the big step of transitioning to an adult, emotionally mature relationship. Penelope gets to be a complete badass even without Simon to boss around. I even really liked the main plot, which was a fake chosen one swanning around trying to get weak powered wizards (or just wizards who wished they were more powerful) to believe in his powers.
But, even as I really liked this, I also didn’t love it. I will concede that what I felt was missing from this book may be there, and I may have just missed it. If you read my paragraph below and feel I have indeed missed something I would like to talk to you in the comments please IN DETAIL.
So, my favorite part of the first book, which I ALL CAPS LOVE, is that while it also holds together as a story and has impeccable character work and worldbuilding and a swoonworthy romance, there is a whole other level to that book that is so meta and intelligent, commenting on chosen one stories and fantasy tropes, that just elevates the book to excellence. Here, I was missing that second level. (I also missed it in book two, which even after a re-read I’m still not completely sold on, even though I also ultimately liked it.) For me, this was just a good story, no metaness to be found. And I guess I really wanted it to be there.
Maybe I will find it on re-read. I still haven’t done these books by audio, and I hear the audiobooks are excellent.