Katherine Applegate's vivid writing, appealing characters, and ability to look at critical issues from different perspectives make for a thrilling, relatable series finale. Endling #3: The Only finds its cast of characters from multiple intelligent species racing against time to head off a world-destroying clash of villains, building alliances with different species and cultures with respect, kindness, empathy, and problem-solving skills as an antidote to violence -- which is plentiful. En route to the cosmic clash, there are plenty of moments of ordinary joy and discovery:
"Khara touched his check and left her fingers there for what seemed -- to me, at least -- a long time. Renzo bowed his head and for a moment their foreheads touched. It was not the sort of thing a great lady would do with a thief. Nor was it the kind of thing a thief would dare with a great lady.
"'Oh!' I exclaimed, but quietly, so that only Tobble and Gambler heard me.
"'I believe,' Tobble said, looking at Gambler, 'that Byx has just figured something out.'
"Gambler nodded. 'I believe you're right.'
"Both of them seemed amused. Clearly I was the last to see what seemed obvious, now that I thought about it: the Lady and the thief were in love."