With this third and final book in the series, Crewe manages to not only continually amaze and amuse with the snarky bon mots but also create a definitive story arc complete with emotional character growth. What we don’t have is a series that peters out at the end and shuffles off with a whimper; rather, we have a tour de force with all the impetus, action, and pathos from the first two books cleverly intact. And through it all, nearly every YA cliche is thrown unceremoniously out the window in clear defiance of expectations. It’s all so wonderfully subversive and inventive. Definitely one of my favorite reads ever.
Story: The Crusaders are losing. Badly. Meda wants to jump ship but darn it if those crusader values keep getting in the way. When all hope is nearly lost, sacrifices will be made, tables turned, and a trip to the very depth of hell may just be in order for our Scooby gang.
The story structure of the first two books is intact here: lots of great verbal quips, smaller action, and emotional bonding. Then by the middle the twists come and secrets will out. Then a great climax at the end. Readers may think they know all there is about Meda, Jo, Chi, and Armand – but life is never cut and dry for our anti-heroes.
Author Crewe resists the temptation to turn Meda good (or Jo bad!) nor does Anton turn into a prince charming. Chi is still dense but fiercely loyal – but this really is the girls’ story. The sacrifices and betrayals make sense, Meda doesn’t rush headlong into danger stupidly, and all the silly YA-heroine cliches never materialize. The entire Soul eater series is really an antidote pill to the rash of vapid YA titles proliferating these days, featuring ‘spirited by illogical’ heroines and their bland, oh-so-perfect prince charming heroes. You won’t find any of that in here and Meda is still deliciously conflicted. But at the same time, the core of the book is about emotion – friendship, loyalty, and even love. You can laugh even while your heart breaks for the characters.
So yes, I heartily recommend this final in the series for those who have read the first two books. For those who haven’t, you’re missing out on one heck of a fun read. Just make sure there are no sleeping animals (or spouses) near you as you begin this book (or the series). I had a hard time keeping from laughing out loud (and then not crying) throughout. Kudos to Crewe to finding such a great balance between humor and pathos, snark and heart.