I could have never predicted the course this book would take. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, I feel torn over the answer. In one way, it's amazing. Sophie Littlefield isn't afraid to make some really bold choices. She stays true to her characters and her world, even when it hurts. But that's the thing... sometimes, it really hurts.
The story picks up a couple of months after the events of Rebirth, which was a little disappointing for me. A lot has happened since Cass and Dor rescued Smoke. And there were times I felt like I had missed something. Our characters are now ensconced in the camp at New Eden. Smoke is in a coma. Dor is a new relationship. And Cass is losing ground. Just like we saw her regress into her old sexual habits in the last book; she is slipping into other self-destructive behaviors here. It's hard to watch. This character is so very damaged, and it would be so easy for Littlefield to fix her. But she doesn't. Not in the predictable fashion. Not in a way that will ease readers or soothe us.
Despite outward appearances, there is still something between Cass and Dor. At times, it's hard to decide whether that's right for her or not. And once Smoke wakes up, things get even more complicated. I kept waiting for Cass to make to her choice. And waiting. And waiting. But the conflict and uncertainty linger for almost the entire story. It's almost easy to forgot this is a zombie book.
Speaking of zombies, the Beaters are evolving; they're getting smarter and threatening New Eden. That forces the community to start searching for a new home. We're reminded of the brutality of this new world and ever-present danger our characters face. The whole book is gripping. And exhausting. And heartbreaking.
It took me a while to reconnect to it all... especially in the beginning, with the time jump and unexplained events that happened between books. Some of the blanks were filled in over time, but I felt a little disjointed. The story really hit its stride about half-way in... And it pummeled me with one poignant moment after another, especially in some of the scenes between Cass and Smoke.
I wish I could find the right words to explain how I feel about how it all ended. It was not what I thought it would be. It broke my heart, as I came to the same realizations Cass did... And then as the events unfolded, I felt a knot form in my stomach that still hasn't eased. It made sense. It was honest. It ends with loss and with hope. It's an amazing series that needs to be read in its entirety. It's heavy reading, but the journey is worth it. 4 stars.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley/ Harlequin
Publisher: Luna Books