Book Review: IN THE AFTERLIGHT by Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopian

Pages: 535

Released on: October 28th, 2014


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Goodreads Summary:

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Review:

I don’t know why this book took me so long to review… I mean I had it finished way back in October, and yet I found that writing a review was really hard. Not just because I was still so emotionally crippled by the book and how it ended the series, because I totally was, but it had a lot more to do with needing to distance that book from the rest of the series.

A lot of the time people have a tendency to review the last book in a series based on all the books that came before it and so you’ll see last books in series get 5/5 because “IT’S THE LAST IN A SERIES OMG SOBS”

And where that is true, that shouldn’t determine whether a book is worthy of a 5/5 star review.


I really, really liked this book. So, so much. I’ve noticed with Alex Bracken’s writing that she is so real and honest with a pinch of subtly that it makes me crave more. It’s so weird and hard to articulate, but basically I’m a huge fan of the way Alex Bracken writes. In the last book, In The Afterlight, Bracken weaves together such deeper truths with the complexity of her characters and plot and it is all so well done that I want to weep just writing about it.

Time to delve into the characters… that’s the one attribute of a book that you have to see from the beginning of a series, not just the last book, because each character has been growing since the very first book. And, my god, do these characters grow and struggle and change and fight. It’s so beautiful to see play out. Ruby has always been my favorite YA heroine and as we get to book three, my love for her has reached all time highs! She is such a strong character; she hides parts of herself out of fear, but puts on this facade that she is an unbreakable person and deep down she’s breaking. Yet she finds solace in Cole and in the duty of saving these kids. She is so badass and REAL. That’s my favorite thing about this book (and that Bracken accomplishes beautifully) is that you have this unbelievable situation of kids with powers but these kids are still real, tangible, and just like you and me. Maybe one day I can develop the type of strength that Ruby has. That kind of hope comes from real characters. P.S. – Thank you, Alex Bracken for creating Ruby.

The plot seemed to drag out a little, but it was also unavoidable to drag it out. I mean, though the book is a little over 500 pages, the majority of the book takes place in one area. That’s probably why I felt like it dragged. But other than that, I really liked where this book ended up going. I am going to go into spoiler mode right now, but I’ll let you know when it’s over…


I’m really glad that they didn’t “get rid of” or try to erase their powers from their own DNAs. Most of the time, authors or writers in general like to end the book with the characters finally being “free” of their powers like it’s some big burden and disease that they need to be eradicated from. And writers make it seem like the main character wants it too; that they’d be happier getting rid of it! But, I was so, so happy when Bracken didn’t write that in. I think at the end of the book there was this understanding between Ruby and her ability, and even so with the other characters, that getting rid of it (although an alluring thing for Ruby) just wouldn’t solve anything. Ruby would still carry those scars of the time when she did have them. So, in the end, I’m glad they didn’t all of a sudden get rid of them. I mean, their abilities are part of them… getting rid of them would be like rejecting what makes them them. Onto the subject of Cole for a hot second.

Onto the subject of Cole for a hot second. I’ve browsed through a few reviews and sites (and tumblr tags) where people are legit upset about what happened to Cole. I, on the other hand, kind of liked it? Let me defend myself, please. Put down the pitchforks. Let me start by saying I absolutely love, love, love Cole Stewart. A lot. Like a lot a lot. And let me also say that what happened to him made me cry for a good hour and half. But. It just fit his character so much. Cole had been carrying around a crap ton of guilt and hiding his powers from everyone, it was just a lot for him. We even saw a few instances through the book where his sanity starts to go for a little while. But in the end, he went out with a sort of reconciliation with his brother and he also went out protecting his little brother. And, come on, they’re at war. Someone’s gotta die. And Ruby didn’t let his death go meaningless. She went to Thurmond, did her thing, and walked out on her own two feet – with him in mind.


All in all, this was a fantastic book full of action, suspense, romance, and resolve. Beautifully written. And a just ending for some amazing characters that I will miss so, so much. But the journey, from The Darkest Minds, to Never Fade, and finally to In The Afterlight, it has been one hell of a ride. And to all the characters… I’ll miss ya somethin’ fierce, darlin’s



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