Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
Chloe as a character is definitely interesting and she felt very authentic. Sometimes when I’m reading contemporary books the characters either read too young or old but I feel like Casey McQuiston got all of these characters pretty spot on. I liked the fact that Chloe rebels against the rigid rules and regulations at her school. At first I was confused as to why Chloe was so adamant in figuring out what happened to Shara and why she just had to follow her clues. I felt like there was no motivating factors for her to continue chasing after Shara when it was obvious she was just messing with them and sending them on this wild goose chase.
I didn’t like Shara’s character at all honestly. From what we find out about her throughout the course of the book she has always capitalized off her position as the principal’s daughter and uses and manipulates everyone around her for her own gain. Her quest she sets out for Chloe, Smith and Rory again really showcase how much of a bad person she is and I didn’t really like how she is supposed to be redeemed at the end. We don’t get to see her have conversations with Smith and Rory about how she used them and vice versa, we’re just supposed to accept that they are all good and dying each other’s hair. She just wasn’t really held accountable for anything and that annoyed me.
Overall I just didn’t understand what the purpose of the book was. It was centered around Shara however we don’t even meet her until almost three quarters of the way through. We see everything through Chloe’s perspective and she doesn’t have the nicest things to say about her and then I’m expected to believe that it was actually love she was feeling. Shara very nearly sabotaged Chloe’s whole academic career because she actually liked her too much? Just doesn’t make sense to me.
I understand that these are teenagers and maybe the way they feel isn’t supposed to make sense and this book was just supposed to be about accepting who you are and coming to terms with your feelings and growing from that, but I came out of it not feeling miffed. The other characters were entertaining and distinctive for the most part. The Rory and Smith subplot was adorable and I really enjoyed seeing them come together!
⭐️2/5 stars I can understand the appeal, wasn’t for me though…
*Series Finale Spoilers*
Return to the City of Sin, where the perilous final game is about to begin…The players? Twenty-two of the most powerful, most notorious people in New Reynes. With no choice but to play, Enne and Levi are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But any misstep could turn deadly when a far more dangerous opponent appears on the board — one plucked straight from the city’s most gruesome legends. While Levi hides behind a mask of false promises, Enne is finally forced out from behind hers and as the game takes its final, vicious turn, these two must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.
Enne honestly didn’t really do anything that blew me away in this final instalment to the series. She definitely goes on a roller coaster ride of emotions and self discovery throughout the course of the plot but I can’t say she was my favourite of the characters. When she was at her worst and was about to shoot Justin really soured her for me, Lola was her first and best friend and she was really about to kill him in front of everyone because she wanted to rush out and be a hero. I can understand she was very much in danger of being lynched by the people for being the last Mizer but some of the actions she took to get what she wants rubbed me the wrong way. I wish she just would of been more honest with everyone (especially Levi).
Levi also felt a bit lost for me in this book, thinking back he didn’t really do anything that is jumping out at me. Sure he was preoccupied with dealing with his emotions about Jac and how that translates for his obvious love for Enne but in terms of the new shadow game he wasn’t really a major factor in figuring out how to beat Bryce. I appreciated how the story kind of came full circle and it had to be him and Enne in the end who had to kill the Bargainer and how he has had to re-evaluate everything now that he is stuck in New Reynes.
I feel like all of the side characters really stole the show in this book. Lola making a bargain and finding out the truth about Enne and her heritage was a great twist. I like the fact that we see Lola on the outs with Enne and form a connection with Arabella because of it and how that plays out. Sophia trying to gain back the knowledge of what her side magic and inadvertently making friends with Poppy and Delaney. I liked their dynamic and it was easy to differentiate between them. Narinder I totally forgot he even existed but I was glad that he was able to influence Harvey and get him out from Bryce’s spell.
To be completely honest I forgot who Bryce was so the fact that he was the architect behind everything in this whole series didn’t make an impact on me at all. He obviously didn’t make enough of an impression on me when I read the last two books that I must of thought he was insignificant which I don’t know if that was purposely done by Amanda Foody or it’s just been too long since I read the other books. I feel like because that connection with him wasn’t there I didn’t really feel like his reasonings behind everything was enough. I do like the way everything was explained though and I wasn’t left with any questions but in the end it just felt a pointless to me.
⭐️3/5 stars A little anticlimactic for me
*THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD*
The sorority girls at Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—are determined to restore balance to the world. After destroying an ancient talisman and barely saving their sorority in the process, they’ll go to any lengths to keep their secret as Westerly’s most powerful coven of witches. Unbeknownst to the Ravens, new rivals and ancient evils lurk on Westerly’s campus. With Kappa Rho Nu’s future on their shoulders and their pasts still haunting them, will Scarlett and Vivi be able to save their sisterhood once again?
Scarlett just came across and very insecure throughout the course of this book. Always second guessing all of her decisions and not really standing up for herself as the president of the sorority. It makes sense now having finished the book why the other sisters kept making remarks about Scarlett’s presidency but the fact that she would just take it and not call them out on being rude and toxic didn’t make sense to me.
Vivi also didn’t really grow in any kind of way throughout the course of this book. She realises at the end how some of her actions and decisions weren’t the best but I feel like if she went back she would absolutely do the same thing. I think she really disregarded the feelings of her sisters when they tried to have the intervention with her despite saying over and over how much of a raven she is, immediately becoming super defensive and dismissive and ran straight over to the Theta’s and joined them. I also don’t understand why she didn’t just explain to Mason about Tim and why she was meeting up with him. She totally just did what Scarlett did to him and I thought it wasn’t nice of her to just blow him off time and time again and then be surprised when he breaks up with her.
I didn’t enjoy the fact that we get this new storyline with the Hadesgate but we don’t get a history of who contained it last time, or who the witch was in the old house that Vivi had the vision about. Also we find out in this book that there are guardians/witch hunters that Scarlett was warned about her whole life which is one of the reasons why they are so serious about containing the secret about their magic. But again were just given kind of the bare minimum that is told to us by Xavier but we don’t get any kind of in depth explanation about who they are and how they were established.
The whole plot was just everything turning against the Kappas all at once and them just being like oh is someone sabotaging us??? It was blatantly obvious that there was someone out to get them but there just wasn’t that sense of urgency until they lost their magic. I feel like the girls are all so cavalier about their magic and will just do a spell whenever something inconvenienced them and it was definitely interesting to see them having to try and navigate their lives without it. There was just nothing that was super surprising or gripping about this book, I was interested enough to see how it would end but this didn’t leave a lasting impression on me at all!
⭐️2/5 stars Underwhelming and forgettable!
*DEFINITE SPOILERS BELOW*
After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.
I found Juliet in this book to be frustrating. I could tell straight away that something was happening behind the scenes with her father as he sent her to ‘work’ with Roma. But because she was so wrapped up in finding out who the blackmailer was and dealing with Roma directly again she was oblivious to what was happening around her until it was too late and she had to scramble. For someone who is supposed to be the heir to the Scarlett gang she is rarely ever with her father or privy to any of his meetings and plans I felt.
Roma was not all that impressive either to be honest. The first half of the book before he found out that Marshall was still alive was just him having conflicting feelings towards Juliet and not really getting anything done. Honestly he didn’t really add anything significantly to the book other than just being a Montagov. I didn’t really come away from the book having that much of a connection to him.
One thing I loved was the evolution of Benedikt and Marshall. Ben finding out that he was still alive and then their reunion where you could feel the tension stirring between them to the eventual declaration of their love! I found it to be incredibly heart warming and lovely to read. I also was very much surprised with Rosalind and Kathleen and how integral their roles were in the plot.
I think what really bogged down this story for me was all of the political talk about the revolution and the different factions within the city that came to a head in the end. I couldn’t find myself being that invested even though it took up so much of the storyline. I know what they were talking about was significant but it derailed the whole story so completely that I feel like the original premise was lost.
⭐️2/5 stars Fell flat for me!
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*
The distrust between them has been overcome and now Ophelia and Thorn love each other passionately. However, they must keep their love hidden. Only in this way can they continue their journeys toward an understanding of the indecipherable code of God and the truth behind the mysterious figure of the Other, whose devastating power continues to bring down entire pieces of arks, plunging thousands of innocents into the void.
Ophelia’s journey to the truth about who the other is was really dragged out throughout the course of this book. I just felt like not a lot happens throughout the course of the storyline even though the book was over 500 pages. We are mainly focused on Babel again and even though we discover more about the Ark and venture into the Observatory we are mainly in Ophelia’s head struggling to figure out how to get to the horn of plenty and who the other is.
We get a few chapters from Victoria’s perspective that I didn’t quite understand. What were the reasons for having them? Sure we get to see the infamous LandmArk and see the interactions between Archibald, Janus and God but I was left more confused than anything. Why was Victoria able to see these things, how did she come to be on the Other side and how did she end up at the bottom of the well for Thorn to find.
I struggled more than anything with a lot of the terminology in this book. I understand that its a translated book but a lot of the phrases of what was happening to Ophelia at the Observatory just didn’t register with me. The concept of the crystallisation creating the echoes and having these revelational moments just went over my head and I couldn’t comprehend what was happening.
I think what was the issue is that this book really veered so far away from where I was envisioning the story to go and I was disappointed with how it ended. The fact that Thorn gets stuck in the Other place and we don’t get to see him and Ophelia truly get to live in peace as husband and wife really irritates me after being kept apart or having to pretend they didn’t have feelings for each other this whole time.
This was definitely my least favourite book in this series. I wasn’t all that invested or interested in the direction the plot was going and it took me a while to get through it. If this wasn’t the last book in the series and me being a completionist I probably would of DNF’d it at 30%.
⭐️2/5 stars I’m just disappointed and underwhelmed.