ISBN: 978-1524720889 (November 9, 2021)
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Series: The Aurora Cycle
FIRST, please let me address the elephant in the room, because I know that my audience is questioning why I'm still reading Jay Kristoff after the allegations regarding his fetishization of Asian culture in the Stormdancer series, and his villainization of Jews in Nevernight.
Jay issued an apology regarding these allegations, admitting his wrongdoing and changing future publications of the Nevernight series to remove the name Adonai. Too little too late, some may say. I am of the opinion that when someone admits wrongdoing and tries to right that wrong, they are deserving of another chance. We all have much to learn about marginalized communities, and many people make mistakes. I have personally made mistakes in my journey to be an ally and am certainly not without fault, and if it weren't for the community of marginalized people around me correcting me, I would never have learned from those mistakes. So while I understand if you choose to no longer read books by Jay Kristoff, I have made the choice to give someone who is actively trying a chance over people who continue pretending they are right.
Now onto the review.
This should have been a 6 star review (so good it gets an extra star) but alas the ending ruined it. The fleshing out of the plot was excellent. It's rare that I can care so much about every single POV in a book with so many, and yet I did. Sayersong provides the absolute perfect villain, I don't know that I've ever hated a villain more. I didn't even hate the Raham as much as the Star Slayer. And the whole "love conquers all" found family trope is by far my favorite. Alas, you're about to read what ruined it for me, SPOILER WARNING HERE I'M ABOUT TO TELL YOU THE ENDING!!! Run now or forever hold your peace! Still here? Ok, here we go. You sure? Alright alright just checking! Seriously last warning though... In the end, as is pretty predictable, Aurora has to face the Raham head on, or I guess technically mind-on since she's like a telepathic warrior of sorts. She gets sucked into the Raham intentionally, and while I don't want to give all the secrets away, the only way for her to escape is to cut away her power. Ah, our least favorite tropesies!!! The powerful woman giving away her power at the end of the book. HISSSSSSS! The internalized misogyny of this particular trope is pretty obvious, and you might convince me to hate it just slightly less if you could name a book for me that a man has to give up his power for the "greater good." My biggest problem isn't even that it happened - it's that it doesn't even make sense for it to happen! Aurora is connected to the people around her with threads, the "tapestry of love" we shall call it. But the Eshvaren gave her the telepathic power - they're the ones who made her into a weapon so the thread her power comes from is them. So why should she have to cut that part of herself out to escape the Eshvaren? The Raham takes all of your memories into itself, but you no longer have autonomy, you no longer have "self." So wouldn't it make far more sense for her to have to cut away her MEMORIES to escape the Raham? To me that would be a sacrifice that makes much more sense. Because the end is about sacrifice, we see it all throughout the series, and I'm not against that in any way. It's the fact that it's always the same - it's always a woman's power that they take. I don't want to take away from the fact that this is an EXCELLENTLY plotted and written book. But that ending literally ruined the series for me. Two talented authors that could have chosen a better ending instead took a page out of the patriarchy's author playbook, and I just wish they hadn't. I'm still glad I read it and I would still recommend it to other people - but I'd definitely warn them of the ending.
4 stars, they could have done better and I'm pretty sad about it.