A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Series combines magical powers and made-up religions, and readers can compare it with other books that do the same (Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Golden Compass, for starters) and think about how the magic is tied to faith and how both are distorted by evil forces. Specific to this book in the series, a god brings about the end times. Readers can compare this version of end times with what established religions declare happens when God decides to call it quits on all of humanity.
Humanity's capacity for love wins out over power and greed. Mercy, forgiveness, friendship, and sacrifice for the greater good also figure in prominently. Better choices are made when we don't live in the past but learn from it and move on.
Positive Role Models
Six major characters get a turn at narration: Hassan, Jude, Anton, Ephyra, Beru, and Hector. This time around Ephyra makes the most positive changes. When it's easier to kill someone with her power she shows mercy and begins to use her Grace for healing instead of killing. She also begins to value friendship with others. Jude and Anton love each other but keep terrible secrets that nearly ruin their relationship. They learn that relying on each other is better than protecting the other from hard truths.
The main love story of the three is between two men. Women are warriors and rulers as well as men.
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Violence & Scariness
It's the end times, so cities fall to plague and earthquakes and volcanoes and one city's river even runs with blood. Main characters aren't in the middle of the mayhem, but watch it happen, feeling helpless. A few characters important to the story also die violently, one by stabbing, one is burned to death, another is run through with a sword, another taken out in a magic burst of light. One character is tortured with a hot poker, another is beaten in prison. Sword fights and attacks with arrows lead to enemy deaths. Soldiers also drown and have their throats slit. Prisoners are drained of their magic and executed in an arena. Two main characters almost die and are healed by magic.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and groping among same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Innuendo and naked bathing. Characters enter a brothel and hear sexual noises through the walls.
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Rare strong language includes "horses--t," "s--t," and one instance of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mostly wine drunk by 20-year-olds, but hard liquor too. A scene where all the main characters drink together until late in the night. A woman gets drunk before harming herself.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Katy Rose Pool's Into the Dying Light is the final book in a fantasy trilogy for mature teens about prophets, kingdoms, magic, and possible end times. Six characters trade off narrating, two of them gay men who account for the main love story in the series. Expect some kissing and innuendo, gay and straight, but less than the second book -- this being the finale, everyone is pretty busy trying to stop the end of the world. Main characters feel helpless as they watch cities fall to plague and earthquakes and volcanoes and one city's river even runs with blood. A few characters important to the story also die violently, one by stabbing, one is burned to death, another is run through with a sword, and another taken out in a magic burst of light. One character is tortured with a hot poker and another is beaten in prison. Expect some drinking, mostly among 20-year-old characters, and rare uses of bad language ("f—k" is said once). In the face of all the destruction, readers will find a reminder of humanity's greatest strength: our capacity to love. And love wins out over power and greed. One of the main characters, Ephyra, embraces the power of mercy and it begins to transform her life.
Is It Any Good?
This sweeping finale with end-times excitement sometimes lacks solid pacing and clarity, but always keeps love as its focal point. And after two other books in the series where you're not sure whose love story will dominate, now there's no doubt this is Anton and Jude's show. The couple has incredibly difficult choices to make, a deadly prophesy to fulfill if all goes awry (and it almost does, many times) and a wrathful god to defeat. While whole cities fall and rivers run with blood -- about as ominous as it gets -- this romance holds the crumbling world and the book together. Another spot of hope is Ephyra's story. She's a killer turned healer who learns the power of mercy and redemption.
It's helpful to have all these personal, grounding moments because at times Into the Dying Light gets too caught up in the chaos. There are so many kingdoms and religious orders and secret societies and prophets and zealots and holy artifacts to keep track of. And there are moments that build -- like a nearly endless trip through the mountains -- and then deliver too swift a disappointment. And there are many changes of plans on this quest. While these changes slow down the story in the middle, they actually work well in the end to keep readers guessing whether the world will fall or love and humanity will survive.
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