It took me a while to get to this book, and sadly I think this is a case of the finale (pun-intended) of a trilogy falling a bit flat, due partly to the book itself, but also it’s lackluster quality when compared to the previous two titles.
I thoroughly enjoyed Caraval, and despite my intense disdain for series that change POVs, I quite liked Legendary as well. Garber was able to weave together a wonderful world full of lush magic and descriptions, as well as some steampunk/historical fiction flare. Each book could, honestly, be read fairly independently, yet the two plots wove together well. It was clear the publishers were unsure if there would be a Caraval sequel, but Garber was successful in adding onto the story regardless of the lack of set up.
However, Finale just felt like it puttered out, like an almost entirely unnecessary addition to the plot. While both Caraval and Legendary have decently self-contained plots that are still intertwined, somehow everything in Finale read as irrelevant as less serious. Firstly, it was pretty clear that all of their mishaps were set up with obvious magical solutions, and though they may be scary at the moment, the characters would be saved. This is ironic because, in the first book, we are intentionally led to believe for a large portion of the narrative that everything is not serious because it is all but a game. However, in that case, Garber was still able to skillfully craft an undertone of fear that gave the book a subtle nod to the gothic genre.
All in all the storytelling and the characters were all consistently stellar. However, I think the plot itself is what fell totally flat for me. It jumped from one thing to another, with nothing ever seeming quite important enough to be invested in. Partially, I think this is because Paradis/Paloma is a grossly underdeveloped character, but she had been the sole motivation behind the second book and inspires much of the third. In Legendary it made quite a bit of sense that we know nothing of what has happened to her since we are still trying to figure out where she is, but considering how she was the prime motivation of the plot, the fact she is in but a few pages of the third book is underwhelming. This added with the fact that I think she was mentioned merely ONCE in Caraval, aka the set up for the entire trilogy, makes her an incredibly weak plot device.
This shows, unfortunately. Finale relies far too much on the romance between the two sisters and their love interests, and much of their dialogue and interactions seem to be purely filer. Scarlett is, uncharacteristically, playing games in a love triangle, and the situation is set up to be a substantial part of the plot and then POOF the situation is gone and never mentioned again. There was quite a bit of this style of storytelling that seemed like I said, inconsequential to the rest of the story, and thus unneeded. This feeling was, overall, disappointing to me. It makes the book slow to read, and almost tedious. I was tired of the jumping POVs where nothing really happened until the last paragraph, and by the time we returned to that POV whatever the plot twist was had been resolved anyways.
This is probably so disappointing to me because I had been utterly entranced with the previous two novels in the series, and Garber had set herself up for some eerily luxurious storytelling with this conclusion. And, what we got wasn’t… bad, per se. It was just boring. There was so much more that could have been done, but everything was tied up before the plotlines had actually become complex, as they would have been in the previous two novels. Was this all just done so there could be more lines describing Legend grabbing Tella from around the waist with far too many adjectives?
For example, we had this wonderful side story of Jacks and Tella, and it seemed it was really building up to something. While Tella and Legend had an interesting dynamic in Legendary all they did in this novel was bicker and then suddenly start to make out because they both have too many hormones. I truly thought we were building to some kind of Buffy/Spike dynamic with Jacks and Tella, where (although TECHNICALLY he did not have a soul or the ability to feel emotions) he still cared about her, and she realized she could do better than Legend, even though he had a nice castle.
In addition, we had a very underdeveloped plot with Scarlett and her half-fate twist. I mean, we don’t find out anything about it until half-way through the book, then all of a sudden she’s being forced to use her powers for evil and then POOF oh look the book is over and she’s like a queen or something? How does this power affect her? What does her lineage have to do with anything at all? And don’t even get me started on how they conquered the Fallen Star. Like. C’mon.
Now, I recognized this probably reads as a negative review, and that’s not what I am going for. I thought it was an easy read (too easy, perhaps, lol), but I didn’t hate it. It was just incredibly underdeveloped and lackluster compared to either of its predecessors. I am unsure how this happened, though maybe this is a case of Veronica Roth syndrome (if you know, you know #triggered). If you enjoyed the other two books in the series, I do think that this book could be a decent conclusion to some of the loose ends you have. However, I would not go into this expecting the hit that we had in both Carval and Legendary.
2.5 out of 5.