Saturday, September 12, 2015

Darken the Stars (Kricket, #3) by Amy A. Bartol


Review by Tempest.

Sorry I've been away guys! We're looking for someone else interested in joining the blog so that a lot of the review gaps we leave can be filled, if interested, let us know!!!

Also, I didn't review the first two books of this series because they were so good, I honestly didn't want to stop reading to take the time! That being said, they really are amazing, and the only reason I can think of not to read them is because the ending of the series is so....well, if you read the review you'll see.

The third book itself was also very good, up until the last two chapters. Honestly, those last two ruined what was a phenomenal series, that also got me interested in giving the scifi genre another chance. :/ Anyway, to the review!

Blurb:

 Kyon Ensin finally has what he’s always wanted: possession of Kricket Hollowell, the priestess who foresees the future. Together, their combined power will be unrivaled. Kricket, however, doesn’t crave the crown of Ethar—she has an unbreakable desire to live life on her own terms, a life that she desperately wants to share with her love, Trey Allairis.

As conspiracies rage in the war for Ethar, Kricket’s so-called allies want to use her as a spy. Even those held closest cannot be trusted—including Astrid, her sister, and Giffen, a member of a mysterious order with a hidden agenda. But Kricket’s resolve will not allow her to be used as anyone’s pawn, even as the Brotherhood sharpens its plans to cut out her heart.

As the destiny prophesied by her mother approaches, Kricket will backtrack through her fiery future to reshape it. For she knows one thing above all else: the only person she can truly count on is herself.
  

***

I feel like I just got shot with a freston.

So, this review is going to be more of a rant, which is why I generally don't write one until at least the day after reading a book, BUT I just...can't. Because of this, heads up, it's riddled with spoilers, so if you don't feel like listening to me rant on, and you don't want to know what happens with this book, stop reading now. I loved this book up until the ending. The ending ruined, for me personally, not only this book, but the previous ones in the series as well.

I also feel like it's important to mention, that if this turns out not to be the last book (which is what it says on the author's blog) I will rescind MOST of the comments to follow. But I mean, a book about Kricket. Not a spin-off series where we glimpse her and she happens to be living a life of leasure off on some beach somewhere (which actually, now that I'm thinking about it, would ALSO be a sucky ending), but an actual book about what happens next and how all of this can be fixed. Doesn't even have to be a full fledged novel, I'd settle for a novella at this point. Heck, a short story even! But I digress on to the actual "review" *cough* rant *cough*.

I'm serious about that freston though. Or, better yet, I'll one up it to brain burrowing worms. What the heck just happened?! What did I just subject myself to?! Let's start with the beginning, where I read the first two books of this series in the course of three days (and it only took me that long because I worked 9 1/2 hour shifts). I've never been big on the scifi genre, which is ironic, considering I was named after a character from Frank Herberts Dune series. I've always tried to get into them, because I love most genres but never could. Until Under Different Stars. Not only did the book blow my mind, but it gave me a new appreciation for the science fiction genre, alien worlds, etc. I love all of the characters, and the story itself was so wrought with emotion that it quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. Then I read the second book, and while I thought there was a ton of unnecessary detail, and really nothing happens in the first half (they're in the same place pretty much forever) by the end of it I still found I loved it. After reading the third book however...I'm convinced that the author is actually a priestess and I've been brainwashed. It's her series, these are her characters and her worlds, and she can do whatever she wants with them. As a reader, I generally don't feel like I have the right to complain when tiny details don't go the way I'd hoped. But come on? Really? Really? REALLY? (Told you this was going to be a rant). I did NOT just read three books just to see the main character end up exactly where she started! Oh wait! Not even exactly there, because now, instead of the two friends she had on earth, she has only one. And one who doesn't know anything about the planet, at all. I love Phlix, don't get me wrong, I was seriously rooting for her and was already gearing to riot if anything happened to her (like with Dobrey...seriously? Yuck. Poor dude) but now it just feels like she was thrown in there simply so the author could point and be like, "No! Look, guys! Look! I didn't totally rip her from her life and then leave her all alone in the end anyway! She's got Phlix!". If you couldn't already tell by now, I am not impressed. Like, at all. Yay, Phlix isn't dead! Boo, who got spoonfed a small role supporting character and told it was a full course meal. Basically, right now, I feel a lot like Kricket. Absolutely no control over the horrible things that have happened to me. Am I being dramatic? Admittedly, sure, but come on, guys? Who doesn't AT THE VERY LEAST want some closure about Trey and Kyon? I was totally okay with her falling for the latter. Honestly, if she hadn't I would have called her crazy. He was convincing. Even I was falling for him. But I still wanted her to end up with Trey. It's left open, with her being warned Kyon might decide to come after her once he wakes up (yeah, good luck getting past all those a-hole Amster d-bags, who also, by the way, I ended up hating JUST AS MUCH if not more than the Alameeda, but we'll get to that) and Phlix, the friend who doesn't actually see the future so take everything she says with a grain of salt, told her she and Trey weren't done. Thanks for that, girl who really has no way of knowing. While we're speaking, I'm sorry you got used as a plot device. I know you have issues with being used and all. Back to Kyon, I get why she fell for him, it was realistic and it made sense. I'm sure it upset some people, but it worked for me because I assumed everything would come to a somewhat acceptable conclusion in the end. Wrong. So wrong. Clearly, I don't see the future either. In this book, try as the author might, Trey gets swept aside. Forget the rug, he's under the floorboards. We never really get a chance to see closure there, even enough of it for Kricket walking away to seem justified. She's trying to be cruel to protect him, ok, but isn't that the same as lying to him? That thing she hates when people do? There's not even any mention of him in that damn letter to her stupid sister (or Jax for that matter!! I had begun to suspect in book two that the author's love had shifted from Jax to Wayra, but that proves it!). And don't even get me started on her sister. We know absolutely nothing about Astrid. Aside from the two or three miniscule glimpses we get of her, everything else is all hearsay. While there's been no mention of it that I'm aware of, I don't even feel like a book series revolved around her would be good/helpful at this point. We came into it knowing nothing about her, and we left the same. Sort of like Kricket. In fact, by the end I'm pretty much completely like Kricket. I don't have Trey, I don't have Kyon, I don't have a place in Ethar, and because I'm not so sure I'll be recommending this series to anyone anymore, I don't even have the one friend. IF we'd gotten to actually know Astrid, and IF we'd actually gotten the chance to like her, MAYBE Kricket running off in the end would have at least been alright. Because, to be clear, I've got no problems with her leaving, it's how she leaves and what she leaves behind that pisses me off. Also, she's not really heading towards anything. She can't even go back to Chicago so...there goes the only two people prior to this entire mess that she cared about. We see in book two that Astrid "loves" Kricket, but even then it does seem pretty clear that Kricket would make a better empress than her. So, because she was coddled by their jerkwad of a dad, she gets to live happily? With the guy she loves? And with a family? While her people basically go around slaughtering people the same as the Alameeda did? Riiiight. That seems reasonable. Not. At least the Alameeda were honest that they were arrogant, insufferable,entitled pricks. Pan's people? They honestly think they're better. Wow. Just wow. Basically, to me, it doesn't seem like in the end Kricket got to be free. It seems like she ran. And she'll be running. FOREVER. Maybe Astrid won't send people after her (which I'm sure personally she won't, but hello, who really thinks she has control over daddy dearest? Or Giffin) but she and Phlix won't really KNOW that for certain. They'll always be forced to look over their shoulders. There were too many characters left in the gray area for it to leave off with such an untidy ending. Giffin clearly doesn't want her dead, but he'll kill her to protect Astrid. Her dad does want her dead, but he loves Astrid, so maybe if she asks he'll let it go. Trey loves Kricket, but he's pissed about Kyon and possibly thinks she hates him. Kyon is unconscious, and needs to survive the a-hole Amster d-bags before he can even consider how he can get to Kricket. Oh, but we know he loves her right, because he turned himself in? Nope. Doesn't satisfy me. Nice try though. Not. (I'm probably being harsh, am I being harsh? This is why I don't usually let myself rant). Her dad did what he thought he HAD to, based off a prophecy of the future, even knowing that FUTURES CAN CHANGE. Umm, hello? Kricket apparently changed it by writing on a mirror with makeup. Which, also seemed like a stretch, like, how convenient she was able to escape imminent demise by writing on a mirror. What? That's attempted to be explained away by Pan telling Trey earlier that his wife saw too far into the future for small details like that to have a large enough ripple effect. Uh huh. Totally buying it. Again, not. Honestly, the dude didn't even try, and it disgusts me how he got away with it. Seriously, NOTHING happens to him. Nothing. He's just as bad as Kyon's dad, using his children, thinking he has all the answers. She doesn't even get to tell him off properly. WHAT?! So, because Papa Ensin is dead, one bad guy down, I should be happy? Nope. Not even a little bit. I didn't need Kricket to become empress or anything, but I did need her to be the badass that I fell for in the first book, the one that kept me reading and actually got me interested in the genre. I just needed her not to run. That being said, I would have been a lot happier if we'd gotten to know Astrid at the last minute, found out she'd never wanted to rule and abdicated to Kricket, so that their father got screwed like he deserved, and Kricket got a family and a future that didn't include sleeping in alleys and being homeless. Is that too much to ask? Maybe. But still.

To wrap this insanely long rant up, at the beginning of this we got a girl who's had a horrible life and is FINALLY about to be free of it because she's turning eighteen. She has a couple best friends who love her, a place to live, and a job that pays the bills and doesn't completely blow (there are worse things she could have been doing, and we all know it). Then she got ripped from her life. Fell in love, "possibly twice", found out she was abandoned as a child, found out she was also stalked as a child by a guy who allowed horrible things to happen to her in order to keep her down, and that like she's believed her entire life, people only want to use her. She's nothing special. How does she end up? Probably stalked the rest of her life by a guy who'll do nothing to help her in order to keep her down, now jobless, friendless (aside from Phlix of course) and homeless. Things are even more bleak now than they were at the damn start, the only difference is instead of being abandoned, she was the abandoner. And it wasn't even because she loves Earth so much, no, it's because if she hadn't RUN, she would have been killed. So, really, where's the change in that? Where has this character grown? She's still only doing whatever she has to to survive because she's desperate. Like telling Trey she doesn't love him. And not telling Kyon that she loves him. By the time it's all over, she doesn't even trust the Cavar's who have had her back the first two books that we all fell in love with. She's just as suspicious, heartbroken, empty, and alone as she was in the first chapter of book one, if not more so. WHY DID I NEED TO READ THREE BOOKS FOR THE MAIN CHARACTER TO END UP IN THE EXACT SAME PLACE?! Where has she grown as a person? What's changed for the better? She killed a dude who sucked for a bunch of other dudes who sucked. That was it. If he hadn't been trying to kill her, would she have even bothered? Who knows at this point! Ok, I'm done. Maybe. Might add one or two things later if they pop into my head, but for now, gonna end it with the part that really disappoints me is that it was attempted to make Kricket end on a note where she's finally achieved freedom, but that's the biggest lie of all. What she has right now is more running, not freedom. She's worse off now than she was before. I feel really bad for Kricket. And Trey. And even Kyon. So, I guess thanks for being such a good writer that I fell head over heels, one hundred percent, in love with all of these characters, only so you could stick brain eating worms into my ears while I was distracted. Awesome.

Again, like I said earlier, if this ends up not actually being the last of KRICKET's books, then I'll change my rating. It'd totally make a five, at the very least a four. As of now, being it's the last book, I can't even bring myself to give it a three. The only reason it's even getting a two is because I feel like part of me is betraying these characters, otherwise it would be a one. :/

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