Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson


The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Book Three of the Remnant Chronicles
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Rating: 1 star
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***NO DIRECT SPOILERS, BUT THERE ARE VAGUE NOTES AND SUCH. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. POTENTIAL INSINUATION-TYPE SPOILERS.***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

What I Liked:

I'm writing this review in lists, people. Usually I do this in paragraphs but I am too infuriated and frustrated by this book write now. This section is my "What I Liked" section, otherwise known as the reasons-why-I'm-not-giving-this-book-zero-stars, in this case.

- Technically, the ending IS a HEA. You'll see below my full thoughts on the ending. But technically, technically, we have a HEA. Lia, Rafe, Kaden, Pauline, and other major characters get a happy ending. I liked Rafe's ending, though I wished for more for him.

- The love triangle is gone - ish? It is. But then, the romance is pretty much gone in general, so there's that. More on that below.

What I Did Not Like:

- Lia is a complete and utter b***h in this book. Honestly, I don't know how I liked her in the previous two books. She certainly wasn't this bad in those books, I can tell you that. Lia turns into this raging crazy person. I think Pearson wanted to make Lia seem "bada**" and commanding and alpha female or whatever. It came across as CRAZY. And rude. And hurtful. For about 75% of the book, Lia is HORRIBLE to Rafe. And then in the last 25% of the book, she's horrible to him in a different way, more subtle. She literally does nothing to fight for their relationship.

Let me stay on this topic for a little bit. Lia treats Rafe so badly in the first 75% of the book. It's like she isn't grateful for him saving her life... over... and over... and over. She uses him, and she makes demands and expects him to do all of these things when SHE KNOWS he has duties in this or that. 

Did I mention that she doesn't fight for their relationship? It's like she loves him but doesn't care enough to fight for the relationship, when things get tough. HE fights for them, but not her. You know why, partly? Her "gift" tells her to do this, or do that. The magical book of Venda that she has with her has all of these fancy prophecies, and Lia is trying to follow them down to the T.

Honestly, I have a lot of disdain for prophecies, and protagonists that put so much stock into them. Lia has no regard for her own destiny. For a girl that tried to escape her fate by running away from her wedding, Lia is quick to jump right back into letting someone (i.e. the book of Venda, and her "gift") control her.

- Obviously I hated the romance. The love triangle is gone, thank goodness. But Rafe and Lia still aren't in a good place, and it's mostly Lia's fault. Rafe is under so much pressure and stress, as a new king (yup, he's the king of Dalbreck now), and it's like Lia doesn't care, or doesn't understand, or both. The romance in this book is AWFUL. I do not recommend reading this book if you expect swooooon. Because it never happens. Lia is cruel to Rafe, and Rafe has to do certain things within his duty as king, and honestly he deserves so much better than her. She wants to be Queen of Venda? By all means. But it's too bad that Rafe loves her so blindly.

In that regard, I dislike Rafe. He loves Lia SO blindly. Rafe is my favorite character and I really felt for him in this book - having to step into the role of king so suddenly - but ugh. Love is so blind.

- I didn't like Kaden, but even I thought his end of the romance deal was poor. It's like the author wanted to force a romantic plot for Kaden. It felt fake and totally forced and not genuine. There was potential for a good hate-to-love relationship. But the author doesn't write it well. 

- BORING. This book, especially the first, like, 40%, was SO incredibly boring. WHY is this book nearly 700 pages long?! It could easily be like, 400 pages, and still would need cutting down. So many unnecessary pages in the beginning of the book - especially since BARELY ANYTHING HAPPENS, except Lia whining, complaining, and being a super-b***h.

- I got to a certain point where I literally dreaded continuing. That point occurred well before the 60% mark, but I stopped reading the book at the 60% mark and didn't pick it up for almost a week. I dreaded picking it back up. There were so many things that were happening that were especially awful, ridiculous, and stupid. Look, I try to separate my intense emotions from my objective opinion of the book, but when you're feeling dread at the thought of picking up a book, and your stomach hurts just thinking about it... there is something very wrong with the book.

- This brand of "girl power" was so bad. I already touched on this, but I didn't like what Lia evolved into, in this story. She's such a b***h! Making demands to everyone, like she owns everything. Especially in DALBRECK, to the DALBRECK KING -- no. Let me explain something: you want to write a medieval-type fantasy novel? You can't have a Princess of X trying to command people/soldiers/royalty in the Kingdom of Y. That just doesn't happen. Lia needed to learn her place, but she is so tunnel-visioned by her "gift". Suddenly she's infinitely smarter and better than everyone because she has a "gift"? That's what it seemed like, in this book. 

I think the author was going for bada**ery but it was an epic fail, at least in my opinion. I hated Lia for, let's see, ALL OF THIS BOOK. I was no longer rooting for after, hmm, chapter one. Look, I'm all for feminism, but in no story would I like a heroine like Lia (at least, what she is, in this third book). 

- The ending, in terms of the romance. It is SUPER open-ended. This book is in serious need of an epilogue. It's not open-ended in a triangular way, but it's abrupt and open-ended.

- The ending in general. In terms of kingdoms and wars and whatnot, the ending wraps up. But it's so abrupt. The Great Big Battle occurs after the 90% mark, and it's so abrupt. And cliche/unsurprising... there are no elements of originality in that last battle scene.

- The speech that Lia gave that stopped and saved everything (at the Great Big Battle). You want to know how the fighting stopped? Lia suddenly developed magical oration powers and captured all of the bloodthirsty solders' attention with her speech. "Brothers, sister!" Yeah NO. That would not have worked on me. In the heat of a battle, I would not give one flying f**k who is getting on whatever podium or rock or hill and starts giving some empowering "let's work together" speech. Ummm, no. That b***h would get an arrow straight through her.

- The presence of the supernatural is SO deus ex machina. I feel like the author used the supernatural "gift" that Lia has to explain way too many things. Feelings, visions memories - okay, maybe. But it just did not seem believable. You cannot explain away EVERY single event with the "gift". You can't have the plot moving because Lia heard a whisper that they should do this, or that. Literally every single one of Lia's decisions are made because of her "gift", and she expects everyone to follow her blindly. Look, I'm all for divine/supernatural powers, but you really can't have your main character so dependent on them. Especially those prophecies -- well, you already read my opinion on prophecies.

- The writing was kind of awful. Seriously, what even happened to this book?! The first two books were really intriguing and engrossing and I liked them so much. This book seemed rushed and poorly written, like maybe it was outlined very well but written with difficulty. Or something. I don't know. All I know is that it was a MESS.

Would I Recommend It:

I do not recommend this book. Even if you've read books one and two, just stop there. I know that if I were reading this review, I would be like psssshhhh, is it really that bad, I'm going to read it anyway! (I was a HUGE fan of books one and two, despite the love triangle.) And there will be many people that will read this book anyway. But I'm here to say that I do not recommend that decision. 

Or, try borrowing this from the library. Maybe don't sink $20 on a book that might end up being 700 pages of agony and fury and irritation. Trust me, I do not know what happened to this book, but the author really dropped the ball here.

And if you haven't started the series at all... maybe don't. Skip it. Overall, it's not THAT good, or original. I can list plenty of better YA medieval fantasy stories, just ask! Honestly, after reading this book, I'm questioning why/how I even liked this series in the first place. My memories of books one and two are replaced by all this rage I have for book three!

Rating:

1.5 stars. I really wish I hadn't ever read this series. I rarely say that but yup, I'm saying it. I'm sorry to the author, publisher, publicists, etc. I'm grateful for the review copy, as always, but I did not enjoy this book. But I will always be honest. If there is one thing I've learned, it's to never hide your negative opinion of a book behind your initial/previous excitement for it. I wish all readers who attempt this book the very best. 


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

49 comments:

  1. Ooooooh noooooo! I'm about 1/4 in and I'm so sad to hear that it didn't work for you. Gah, I think I'm going to be so sad about the romance :( I love Rafe (and enjoyed the first two book. Sigh.)

    Thanks for the honest review, Alyssa!

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    1. Hopefully you like it more than I did? Thank YOU, Cyn!

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  2. *gasps* Wow! And here I was getting pumped to finally read my copy of book 2, so I could jump straight into this one. Seriously, the first book was just so great to me. But I've been sitting on the second one because of the love triangle that I knew would come out full force. Oh geez. I have much to think about right now. Thank you for your honesty, because some readers will actually rate this book 4-5 stars and still give a "meh" review, just so it'll get high ratings. I want an honest rating and review.And I need that to make my decision on whether to buy or borrow. So sorry this pissed you off. I felt like that a few months ago about the final book in a series that I loved wholeheartedly.

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    1. LOL! Honestly I felt a little scandalous, writing this review. I loved book one and really enjoyed book two. I felt like the love triangle wasn't *as* bad in book two (though it definitely was still there). Ugh. Just thinking about books one and two now makes me angry though. I cut the books slack, to be honest!

      Always honesty from me! I don't sugarcoat for brownie points. :D Hopefully, if you read this book, you'll like it more than I did, Lekeisha!

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  3. Well good thing I haven't started this series..... I'm so sorry you were unhappy with the ending! It sucks when the final book in a series doesn't live up to the rest of them.

    Jamie @ Books and Ladders

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    1. I definitely don't recommend the series anymore, sadly! I'm so frustrated and disappointed. :/

      Thank you, Jamie!

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  4. Oh my... what a bummer!! Hating the last book in a series you were loving seriously sucks... =/

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    1. It was a bit heartbreaking! But I was also seriously angry. *sigh*

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  5. Oh nooo... I read the first one and enjoyed it but haven't started on the second. So sad the ending sounds so bad :(

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    1. Let me know if you want specifics, Eileen! I don't want to ruin anything for anyone, but if you ask, I'm willing!

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  6. Oh noooo! I was so looking forward to this last book but I do so value your opinion and a 1 star is super rare for you to give to a book! It must have had a lot of problems! So so so sad.. I wonder what happened for Mary Pearson to go this route with this last book in her 'almost' beautiful trilogy. I will definitely hold off on purchasing this last one and wait to borrow it from the library instead if I'll read it at all. I don't want to tarnish my impression of the first two and just may stop at book #2. Thanks for your deeply honest review!

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    1. I originally tried to rate this book higher, upon finishing the book, but I just couldn't do it. Just about nothing worked for me. :/ Borrowing from the library is the way to go, especially if you end up not enjoying the book! But I hope you love it. =)

      Thank YOU!

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    2. Whew I finally finished this book and I have to admit it wasn't as bad as you made it to be, at least to me. I did agree that the journey for them to get back to Cam Lanteux was long and drawn out; the 'gift was definitely not properly developed nor explained , it was just there.. and her speech to the Vendans was very wimpy. But overall I enjoyed it and it was a happy ending. Definitely not as good as Book 1. That one was my most favorite.

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    3. That is great! Different strokes for different folks. Book one was definitely the best one. :/ So sad!

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  7. Oh wow. LOL, that was some great venting up there, girl! I absolutely love that you reviewed this so honestly. So sorry to hear this one was such a let-down, though. I read book one and really loved it, but I never did pick up book two. I kind of felt the best part about book one was the whole novelty of not knowing who was who, so after that secret was out, I wasn't sure what book two would be like. Does that make sense? LOL Anyhow, I think I may just stop at book one and keep my lovely memories of it. :D Great review, Alyssa!

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    1. I tried to make the venting as "professional" as possible... meh. I totally get what you're saying, about the jig being up at the end of book one. Stopping at book one sounds good, I wish I had done that! Or never started the series. *sigh*

      Thank you, Becky!

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  8. ACK! I'm so glad I have up on this series because this book sounds horrible! Is it bad that I kind of enjoyed you ripping it up? Great review :)

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    1. I'm glad for you, Emily Anne! And LOL, I thank you for that. Ripping it up wasn't a hardship, because the book gave me plenty of fodder to rip up! ;)

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  9. Wow! Only 1 star? I haven't started the series yet. Not sure how I feel about this, but I know I still want to try it out! Good review though!

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    1. I wanted to give it 0.5 stars (or basically 0 stars)! Just about nothing worked for me. I hope you enjoy this book more than I did, Lisa!

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  10. This is SO disappointing! Your thoughts on this book remind me of how I felt about The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings. I HATED the main character of that book with a fiery passion after liking her well enough in book one. I'm probably going to read this book anyway, but I'll just keep my expectations low. I loved the first two books so much, so I hope that I can find something to like about this one even though you couldn't!

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    1. Huh - I just realized that I never finished that series. Aaaaand I never will. *shrugs* I hope you enjoy this one more than I did!

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  11. Oh no...it's so unfortunate that this last book in the series was so awful. I'm glad I decided to read your review as I've been contemplating reading this series.

    I'm big on swoons in a romance and since there is zero in this one I won't be reading it.

    I know you're not a big fan of prophecies. Usually I love them, but I don't like it if an author uses the prophecy as an excuse to explain away things as you mentioned.

    Thanks for writing your review honestly, I will make sure to steer clear of this one.

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    1. I don't recommend starting the series! There are better (and swoonier!) fantasy novels out there... this series was great but then crashed and burned. o_o

      Thank YOU, Miranda! Happy reading!

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  12. How did you get to read the book? l have Netgalley and l couldn't even read it so how could you read it?

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    1. The publisher approved a widget for me! It was taken off of NetGalley very quickly.

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  13. Oh god I'm in the middle of book one right now!! I am liking it, but it's not the best thing ever. Now I'm really hesitant to continue on... I can't believe a speech just fixed a battle. I would've killed her too. XD It's so obvious Rafe and Lia are going to end up together also. Why is there even a love triangle?? Loved your review, Alyssa!

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    1. Try book two and see how it goes. Honestly, I loved book one and really liked book two... obviously book three was a train wreck (for me).

      I agree, the love triangle is USELESS!

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  14. Hey Alyssa, i'm from Brazil and i just read the first book and i loved it. I think the second and the third book will only be realesed here next year and i'm reading so negative reviews from this third book that i want to know if it is worth buy the next one.
    I'm a big fan of lia and rafe relationship... and i want to know if them end up together :P and what about kaden? has he a nice end? (i have a feeling that he will end up with pauline, but it is just a feeling xD).
    Please give all spoilers about the end hahaha i'm dying to know

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    1. You can assume good things about Lia and Rafe. Kaden gets a happy ending, but not with Lia. Your feeling would be on the very right track. ;)

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    2. thanks for the reply xD
      woow, i'm happy about kaden, but i don't know what to think when you say "assume"... what do you mean about "super open-ended final"?

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    3. You're welcome! And Lia/Rafe's ending is both happy and abrupt. Like there really needs to be an epilogue. But overall it's a good ending. You should email me if you want more specific information! I don't want to be too spoiler-y here. =)

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    1. This I am happy to answer publicly - he did NOT! =)

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  16. well someone said that he did, so was he going to and stop? or am i compeletely wrong?
    thanks for replying btw

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    1. Rafe n e v e r touches another female. He signs a contract to marry a general's daughter (because of some political reasons), but he never "cheats" on Lia. Or marries the general's daughter, in the end.

      It's entirely unnecessary drama on Pearson's part, I don't know why she included it.

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  17. Waaaait. The ending is open-ended? WHAAAT. I am just getting more and more disappointed by this book, haha :) So glad I never read past book one. But also so so disappointed that this book was so goddamn awful :( Gah. I'm so sorry Alyssa :( It sounds the worst. Ugh. Thank you for sharing your amazing review sweet girl. <3 Hugs.

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    1. Yeah I do not recommend this series to you, Carina. If you read it, I do hope you like it more than I did. But it's not worth the effort!

      You're welcome, and thank YOU!

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  18. Where can I find a summary of book 3? Didn't want 2 finish it after 30% done bit still want 2 know what happened...:)

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    1. Click on the Goodreads link! If you want specific spoilers, you can message me on Goodreads or email me. =)

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  19. Ugh i totally loved the first 2 and definitely had high-almost-certain-hopes that we will be getting swoony over Rafe & Lia .. but slap they broke up at the beginning =) .. i too got so pissed off at Lia for being such a person .. even Rafe tells her that she ran away from all those believes and now she throws it in his face! Aaah i was soo upset even in the part when they were together at first cause i can see disaster coming and boom it did =) and yes the fact that she never fought for them!!! Ugh who are you and where is our Lia ��

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    1. As for Rafe .. he proved himself .. he let her go after fighting for them to the end .. he supported her all the way .. and Gosh im so pissed off at Lia i cant describe it ..

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    2. Yeah this one was disappointing, from start to finish. I feel like people either LOVED Lia in this book, or hated her. I hated her. :/ Sometimes I get so frustrated with YA books because these teenagers act so ridiculous sometimes. -_- I'm saying this as a 21-year-old, not that far from being a teenager! lol

      Anyway! I understand your anger - I was that way for at least a month, after reading the book. Still furious just thinking about this book! Grrr. I don't know that I want to read anything by Pearson again. :/

      Thank you for commenting!

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  20. Thank you so much for the review Alyssa... I read the first two and couldn't wait to read the third... But now I don't think I will. Quick question though, who does she end up with in the end of the book? Thank you for the review, you just saved me a lot of heartache.��

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    1. I'm glad I could help! I think you can tell who she ends up with, from my review. I made it fairly obvious. :D I don't want to state anything too obviously, but believe me, I do pretty much give it away in my review!

      Hopefully you read something much better than this one, Kat! Happy reading. =)

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  21. I completely disagree with your review of this book. I thought it was great. It was so engaging that I read it in 2 days. I would totally recommend this series. 5 stars!

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    1. Good for you! I'm glad you liked it. =) I don't recommend the series (which is obvious) but it started out well!

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