I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time! I had a serious dilemma choosing what book to read next because so many awesome titles all came out this past month! And oh my god, I forgot how much I loved this author’s writing style, and the writer’s overall love for the written word. The only hard thing about reading this book was knowing that it was the last one. Seriously, it took me at least two days to finish it because I kept putting it down, not wanting it to be over…I’m still kind of in denial.
The last book ended with all the central characters separated. They all found each other and all ended up working for the Rising, but the Rising saw all of their unique traits and placed them in locations that would most benefit the Rising’s eventual takeover of the Society. Cassia is placed in Central as a sorter, where she will be asked to do a special sorting for the Rising. Ky is working as a pilot, not to be confused with the Pilot (aka: leader of the Rising), and Xander (who now has his own point of view chapters!) is working as a medic.
Cassia and Ky are of course thinking of each other and always contemplating dropping everything for the Rising in effort to be with together. However, they never do this because they come to see what they are doing as important and necessary. The Rising has decided that the best way to infiltrate the Society is with a plague. The Society used the plague to infect its enemies, and now that the Rising has found the cure, they are going to let the plague spread in the society all in effort to cure a terrified public and ignite a following of the past Society supporters.
Xander also always thinks about Cassia. But, he is always working. He has risen in his ranks with the Rising and is in charge of administering the cure. Ky is the one delivering the cure to various cities, by plane. And Cassia is sorting for the Rising while pretending to be sorting for the Society. She is also now obsessed with trading and with the archivists. Some of the things she acquired in book two, are top of the market trading items, and Cassia has been invited to the inner sanctum of trading with the archivists. It is through her learning of forbidden artifacts and her love of poetry that Cassia finds her true calling: The Gallery.
The Gallery is a an abandoned area that Cassia opens up as a free space for anyone who wants to share their creativity. There are stories and poems on the walls. People share their music, their songs, and their artwork. And as it becomes clearer and clearer that the Rising has acted, the plague has been released, and everything is changing, more people come to the gallery to share and learn. They never had an opportunity before to do anything like this because the Society got rid of most artwork and did not really inspire creativity in its people. Unfortunately though nothing lasts for long in Cassia’s world.
Right after it finally seems as though Xander has gotten the cure to everyone, a new mutation of the plague occurs. The mutation is not affected by the cure at all, and more and more of the public (now ruled by the Pilot and the Rising) are getting the mutated version, which has no cure yet. This book is filled with dangerous plane rides, death, revolution, medicine, love, and survival. The Pilot gathers Xander, Cassia, and Ky together toward the end and pretty much places the entire population’s health in their unsuspecting hands. By the end of the book one of them will have the mutated virus, one of them will fall in love with someone else, one will loose someone close to them, and they will all have to grow up remarkably fast and under a lot of pressure.
I loved the emphasis on the arts! Cassia has been in love with poetry since her grandfather gave her that first illegal poem. She teaches people to write by hand and brings strangers together by encouraging a love for art. Everything about the gallery was beautiful. I loved Cassia’s own poem that she writes to give to a stranger to sing to her child. I love how there is such a large amount of people who refused, over the years, to have culture sucked out of them. There are so many things that the public had given up for the safety of the Society, but their passion was something that had been hidden for years, and Cassia was able to pull out!
I loved that the romance was understated. Yes, the triangle was prevalent throughout the entire book. However, it always took a back seat to all else. I loved getting in Xander’s head! The name Xander (thanks to Joss Whedon) will always have a special place in my heart. But really, this is such a complex, intelligent individual! He was in on so much from the beginning. And he is probably the bravest one in the whole book!
I actually rather enjoyed the final ending. I think things wrapped up just enough. The rush for time at the end kept me going way into the middle of the night. I also enjoyed reading about all the new characters in the outer provinces. I thought all that happened with the Rising was believable. I loved how the Pilot existed as one person, yet also existed as many people. Each character had their own Pilot to look up to. Oh, the archivist’s secret layer was beyond cool! I want to go there so bad! All of the explanations given for the pills and Cassia’s lack of a certain memory were adequately explained, and I’m so glad I’m not holding on to certain unresolved questions.
The only thing that kind of irritated me was the plague. I kind of kept expecting the mutated virus to turn everyone into zombies…The book got very medical. I loved following Xander’s character, but so much of his story involved injecting medicine and discovering medicinal anomalies. And while I love a good zombie story or a good dystopia story that’s based off of a virus, this is not what I was expecting or wanting at all from this book. This series has dealt with a lot of politics, a lot of art, and a lot of control issues with a terrifying society. I just feel like Condie could have come up with something different that would have had more of a connection to the rest of the series.
The plague was mentioned before in regards to warfare, but still. It seriously took center stage in this last book, and it just kind of felt out of place. There was really no other way for the Rising to do what it did? It just didn’t fit for me. Still, the characters really grew up fast because of the plague. And it did allow them a lot of individual time to come to themselves on their own, so I see how it worked in some respects. It just made the novel more of a sci-fi book for me, whereas the books earlier in the series felt more like dystopia/romance. And I love sci-fi, I really do. It’s just weird for a series to do such a genre switch 2/3 of the way in…
Regardless, I loved this book. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. I loved the ending. I was both dying to find out how everything would resolve and reluctant to keep reading because I didn’t want the series to be over. Condie has accomplished a beautiful dystopia trilogy that I have and will continue to recommend to a lot of people. The ending gets a 9/10 from me.