Author: Ryan Winfield
Publisher: Birch Paper Press
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Type of Review: Personal
Kara's Rating: 5.0 Kicks to the Heart
Blurb: After leaving the Isle of Man, Aubrey and Jimmy return to the Foundation to confront Hannah about her betrayal and to free the people of Holocene II only to find themselves facing new and more difficult challenges in a world where nothing is as it seems.
Kara's Review: Wow. It is so bittersweet when a series you love comes to an end. But before I get started, if you haven't read these books, you might want to take a moment to go read my reviews of Book One and Book Two.
Okay, so, I have some mixed emotions about this book, mostly with the ending, the epilogue specifically. We'll get to that a little later. Overall, I LOVED this book, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone because I'm a huge fan of Ryan Winfield!
As usual, Mr. Winfield's descriptions are vivid, beautiful, and a bit long at times. (I think I've said this with every single book of his I've read and reviewed. lol) That's not necessarily a bad thing, but personally, I don't care for that much description. His prose is always so moving, poetic at times really, and it's hard not to become engaged in the story and the world he's built.
Now, I'm going to attempt to write this review without giving any spoilers, which is going to be extremely difficult because it seems like everything I want to say, everything I want to point out, will spoil the book. lol. But, here goes...
This final book in The Park Service Trilogy seemed to focus more on the characters than the action -- unlike book two, which was packed with action. Don't get me wrong, I'm still reeling over book two, but a true character driven story gets me every time. So, let's take a look at the characters, shall we?
Aubrey -- He's the main character and the hero. Right from the start he's been likable, if not a bit gullible at times. Throughout the first two books, Aubrey was finding his way, discovering new truths he never knew existed, and he was fighting to survive. He is befriended by Jimmy, and they become inseparable. I'm so happy this didn't change in book three. If anything, their relationship matured and grew. It was really heartwarming to see unfold on the pages. What really stood out to me, though, was the role reversal we saw in this book. In the first two, Aubrey allowed Jimmy to take the lead on everything. Aubrey looked up to Jimmy, aspired to be like him in every way. However, in this book, Aubrey really stepped up and took the leadership role we've all been waiting for him to take. And although some of his decisions made me want to smack some sense into him, I could understand why he felt the need to make them.
There was a scene where Aubrey is reunited with someone (can't say who because it will spoil the surprise) who eventually tells him exactly who he is, why he was "chosen" in book one to go to the Foundation, and what is true heritage & legacy is -- and let me tell you, I didn't see this one coming! That shock was a great twist to the story as a whole; however, I felt his reactions to learning the truth were a little underplayed. I would've liked to see him get angrier, yell, scream, rage, rebel. Something. But he seemed to sulk for a couple of days, and then was easily over it.
Jimmy -- Oh, poor, poor Jimmy. My heart broke for him. There were several points where my heart was pounding, and I was on the verge of tears. He endures so much throughout this story, and there were several places where I *thought* he was going to die. I'd already made up my mind that if he did die in the middle of the story, I was going to stop reading. Thankfully that didn't happen. Jimmy really is the perfect best friend and companion to Aubrey. They offset each other very well, compensating for each other's weaknesses and magnifying their strengths. And can I just say, I totally called what was going to happen in this relationship! ;)
Hannah -- I haven't liked her since the moment I met her and that hasn't changed. In fact, I dislike her even more now. She's a vile person and deserved what she got. Some other reviewers have said that Aubrey's final actions toward her weren't justified. Personally, I was asking myself why he hadn't done it sooner.
Jillian -- She was a new character that we hadn't seen before. In the beginning, I was kind of rooting for her because she was on Aubrey's side. But some of her actions had me questioning her motives. And by the end, she's firmly in my "dislike" category right below Hannah. Jillian didn't do anything horrible or mean per se, but she is way too much like Hannah for my comfort, and with the way the book ended, I'm left wondering if there will be a spin-off series, because it was left wide open for one with Jillian at the helm.
So, now the epilogue -- As an author and editor, I can appreciate what Mr. Winfield did here, but as a reader it infuriated me! And here's where it's so hard for me not to give anything away because I just want to rant and rave about it. lol. Now that I've had a couple of days to digest it and think about it, I can see it for what it is -- a true happily ever after -- even though it's not your traditional HEA, and it had me in tears, it was the only logical conclusion to this series. So, bravo, Mr. Winfield, for staying true to your characters and not taking the easy way out. (Although that probably would've made a lot of readers much happier.)
All in all, this has been a FANTASTIC young adult series, and I highly recommend it to everyone. It's a series I will read over and over again.
Amazon buy links:
The Park Service (Book 1)
Isle of Man (Book 2)
State of Nature (Book 3)