Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson


Title: The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 679
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Reviews for book 1 & book 2

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

The Beauty of Darkness is the long-awaited (okay, not that long, but it felt like forever) conclusion the The Remnant Chronicles, one of my favorite series of 2016 and easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. But despite the fact that I preordered it and started it immediately, this book took me forever to read. Forever. In fact, I read half, put it down for months, and finally finished it via audiobook. You see, this book suffers from being twice as long as it needs to be, but more on that later.

This book picks up directly after the end of The Heart of Betrayal. Lia has escaped from Venda, barely, and must make her way home to Morrighan to warn them of Venda's plans. On the way, though, she finds herself disagreeing more and more with Rafe and eventually must decide which way to progress - in the direction her heart is leading her, or where Rafe wants her to go. It is during this never ending progression through the countryside that Lia and this book completely lost me.

I have so, so many problems with The Beauty of Darkness, not least of which is that Lia becomes a totally different person. She is incredibly rude and selfish and hurtful and has absolutely no concept of what it means to love another human. With one breath she insists that she loves Rafe and in the next she completely disregards him, his opinions, and his well-being. And while I understand that she is a "strong" woman who must do what she thinks is best, there are certain caveats that come with being in a committed relationship. You know, like not being a total bitch and taking your partner into consideration when making life-changing decisions. I absolutely could not stand Lia in this book and that is really unfortunate considering I loved her in the first two.

Kaden continued to be a decent character, at least. I thought his romantic arc, however forced, was cute enough and I kind of liked how it wrapped up. But Rafe... I think he's a good, strong character. I liked him. But I honestly could not understand why Rafe continued to care about Lia when it was obvious that he was not even on her priority list. Basically, the romance in this book was just extremely off and didn't live up to the rest of the series.

I've already mentioned that this book is slow, so let me expand upon that. This book is unbearably slow. I couldn't force myself to read it. A massive chunk of the almost 700 pages (seven hundred!!) is just Lia and Rafe or Lia and Kaden walking and talking and eating and sitting and literally nothing else. The entire trip could have been summed up in a chapter or two and The Beauty of Darkness would already have been so much better. I'm not sure what to say about the world building. This book explores the exact same locations as the first two, except you get to stay there for literally ever.

While I'm on the absolutely painful pacing of this book, I'd like to talk about the final battle. You know? The big one the entire series has been leading up to. Without getting too spoilery, it happens in the last 10% of the book and is over incredibly quickly thanks to some good 'ol deus ex machina. I have vowed not to ruin anything, but the way in which things resolve is so unbearably ridiculous I still am not over it.

Quite frankly, I'm mad. I will forever be bitter that I spent three books, close to 2,000 pages, on this series for it to end like this. The pacing was terrible, the romance was awful, and the magic did not even need to exist. So did I like anything about it? Well, the first few chapters were pretty good! They felt like the first two books in the series and made me excited to see what would happen. But all the issues I've already mentioned combined with a horribly open-ended conclusion throws The Remnant Chronicles right off my favorites list and into the trade pile.