If you’ll allow me to mangle a well-known idiom with my unique grasp of math(s), this book is a book of two halves.
Approximately 90% of it holds some of the best writing I have come across.
- The relentless increase in tension.
- The ‘Oh sh*t, no! He’s not gonna do that.’ moments.
- The breakneck speed and drama of the battle scenes.
- The understated horror of what happens to some people.
- The realisation that Zero has been playing them for years.
- That prose, baby. The books got the kind of moves that’ll make a librarian sit up and damn well perspire in the aisles.
This 90% is phenomenal. (Just like in Book Two.)
Then there’s the 10%.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The 10% is not bad, not by any stretch. If I could get near the standard of this 10% in anything of mine, I’d be happy. But compared to the rest of the book, it jarred.
Zero’s back story drags. It’s well-written, but feels almost like a long short-book within a short long-book.
His fate, too. It came and went. As did Alicia’s. (Peter’s, too, to an extent). I’ve reread these sections and still came away thinking: “What just happened?”
It’s a theme that recurs throughout the series, everything is so well written but every now and then something pops up which seems too fantastical: Peter dealing with the drac in the cage (Book Two); virals that were unstoppable in Book One get weaker as the story progresses – they no longer have just one or two ‘sweet spots’ (the sternum & palate) but can be killed as easily as humans. There were other moments where I had the same sensation of stumbling over a plot point. I feel like I’m being churlish as the series is SO good. But precisely because of that, what I may have glossed over in other books, stuck out here.
Similarly, the prose: It is sublime: pared down to the bare minimum in places and so effective for it; a throwaway sentence of beauty in others. But again when Zero is around, things tend to wallow. It suits his personality. Maybe, that was why. But it’s also the dosage. Like salt, a little adds flavour. A pinch more? Perfect. Dump in three more spoons (AKA sentences) and it’s too much.
Overall, though, I binge-read this book like I did the other two. That pretty much tells you my opinions about it and the series.
Buy it. Read it. Once you’ve read the others first.
You can pick up a copy here.
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