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Monday, June 30, 2014

Flame (Sky Chasers #3) by Amy Kathleen Ryan

In the thrilling conclusion to the Sky Chasers series, Waverly, Kieran, and Seth struggle to survive on-board the New Horizon—and take down their enemies before it's too late.

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have scattered, and their home ship has been destroyed. Their mission to rescue their parents didn't go as planned, and now they're at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Kieran has been pulled under Anne Mather’s wing, but is she really trying to make peace, or just using Kieran to build her own power? Meanwhile, Waverly is taken in by a mysterious old man who wants to help her bring Anne Mather down—but the more Waverly cooperates with him, the more dangerous her position is, and the more at odds with Kieran she becomes.

Seth's situation is even worse. After setting out from the Empyrean on his own, with only a vague strategy to guide him, he is a fugitive aboard the New Horizon. He's doing what he can to challenge the power of Anne Mather, but he's badly hurt, and getting sicker.

Will Seth ever see Waverly again? Will his health hold out long enough to help her topple their enemies? And will Waverly find a way to unite with her friends before they all fall? Nothing is sure and every moment is a risk in this explosive finale of the Sky Chasers series.

Released: January 7th 2014         Pages: 336
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin       Source: Library

It's been awhile since I read Spark, so I'm not sure what my expectations of Flame even were.  I do know, however, that Flame messed with, and even (slightly) exceeded these expectations.

My review of Spark is almost entirely devoted to criticizing Waverly and Kieran for being near-sociopaths.  While it's true that I spent most of that book annoyed with them and losing track of their motives, I have since then realized that it isn't so much about likable characters--it's about characters who have human feelings that we can relate to.  Characters that make sense.  Characters that are, well, like real people.  

Then again, we're walking a fine line here.  Even if you write an incredibly three-dimensional character who makes bad decisions on a regular basis, you run the risk of turning readers off, so to speak.  I think sociopathic characters are often fascinating, and apparently I'm not the only one, because Sherlock exists.  Sherlock is an excellent example of someone you wouldn't want to know in real life.  He's arrogant, socially clueless, and tactless to the point of being downright cruel on a regular basis.  And yet, on screen, we love him.  It's a fascinating character study.  But if you took it too far, we'd just hate him.  If he had no human qualities, if he was too far removed from normal for anyone to relate to him, his character wouldn't work.  My problem with Spark was that I was losing track of the humanity of Waverly and Kieran.  I started losing the ability to relate.

Flame starts out with a bit of the same problem, but here my frustration was more about the fact that all Waverly does for at least a hundred pages was mope around in her room.  The focus is not on moving the story forward--it's about going over, coming to terms with, or otherwise dealing with past events.  The first half of the book doesn't go anywhere, and I felt like I was just reading a summary of Spark.  Focusing on these past events is important to the book, but I still wanted forward motion.  

The second half of the book is so much more engaging than the first.  Finally, the story moves on.  There's more action, more suspense.  Kieran, Waverly, and Seth actually do things.  I regained a bit of my lost respect for Waverly and Kieran.  Both are put into increasingly impossible and morally ambiguous situations, but they react like real people.  They make both good and bad decisions, which makes them feel authentic.  

And then there's Seth.  He never lost my respect, and in this book, he only gained more of it.  His past and his somewhat divided role in the series makes him the most fascinating character of all.  He has so much courage, even when his situation is more difficult than that of the other two, combined.  His love for Waverly made me feel for him, and I wanted to see him succeed.  I want a spinoff series about him.

The second half of the book also upped the intensity a few notches, and I loved it.  It's darker, and its ideas of right and wrong become even more muddled.  There is no black and white in these books--it's all in shades of gray.  This, of course, always makes for the best stories.  It makes you think and question your beliefs.  The physical action of it becomes darker as well, adding more suspense and tension.  If the entire series had riveted me as much as the last several chapters of Flame, I would have given it all five stars.

After Spark, I was reluctant to finish this series.  Flame, then, reminded me why I enjoyed Glow so much in the first place.  It's an intense sci-fi series full of intensity, realistic characters, and of course, lots of spaceship action.  Spark may suffer from being the middle of the trilogy, but Flame ends it with a bang.  It's a satisfying end, even though I'm still wishing for more of Seth's story.

Similar Books: It's a YA sci-fi novel that takes place in space or on a spaceship like Across the Universe, Inside Out, A Confusion of Princes, Starglass, and Avalon

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1 comment:

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