In the years since Kitty, Nate and Thom escaped the Kingdom, the Plague has ravaged the population and the rebels have seized two of the northern countries. In an attempt to bring order to the chaos, the leader of the rebels, Nate’s old friend James, has agreed to hold trials for those responsible for intentionally leaking the Plague.
Unfortunately, the rumour in the Kingdom is that Kitty is responsible. To make matters worse, Blaise tells Kitty that the Council, who still count her father as one of their own, are once again experimenting on Radiants. It’s a horrifying realisation that hits too close to home, and for the first time in her life, Kitty thirsts for vengeance. It’s a thirst that’s matched by the one person who has always been her mirror — her Complement, Thom.
On the other side of the Wall in the Outlands, desperate to bring Kitty home and finish the Council once and for all, Thom begins plotting, using the skills he’s long honed to outsmart those with more power. But outsmarting his enemies might turn Thom into the very thing he’s always feared becoming, and war soon seems the only possible solution to stopping the Council and the Hangman. But with more than a few looking to the ancient prophecy of peace, Thom searches desperately for a way to circumvent more bloodshed.
Yet the weight of the years have taken their toll, and as Thom’s physical and mental health deteriorate, Nate struggles with the fallout of past crimes, both the ones he did commit, and the ones he didn’t …
This is a hard book to review because it is difficult to separate my feelings about this installment from my feelings of the series overall. I love this series and these characters so much. It has become one of my favorite dystopian reads of all time. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and liked where all the characters ended up. They each showed a lot of growth over the course of the series and that was brought to its logical end point here. I particularly love Thom and enjoyed reading his perspective here. He changed a lot over the course of the novel, and I liked who he ended up with romantically because it really showed how much he had changed. Although, I didn’t like that his growth was nonlinear. He made a big decision in this book that felt quite regressive for the character, and I kind of wish he had insisted on finding some other way to accomplish the goal. It just felt a bit expedient and made all the growth up to that point in the novel feel less impactful. As with all the books before, this book tackled trauma, relationships, and the interaction of the two in a brilliant, unflinchingly honest way. I also really enjoyed the continued world-building and the inclusion of many characters from previous books. It made this send off feel quite grand in scope. My only other major complaint would be that the story felt rushed. I think this would have worked better as two books as there was lot to unpack with the formation of the rebel government, rescuing Kitty, the new plague, and overthrowing crown and council (plus all the character/relationship stuff going on). Despite the fast pace, the book did a good job of tidying up all the loose ends and providing a satisfying conclusion to all the character arcs. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.