Kelley Armstrong’s novels have long impressed me with their strong female characters and in-depth character development amidst heart-pounding action. Her young adult fiction has impressed me even more with remarkably mature, level-headed teenagers. In The Rising, the final book of The Darkness Rising trilogy, Armstrong plunges Maya and her friends into morally obscure situations where the question of whom to trust is unclear. I loved both the first and the second books of this trilogy, and this finale lives up to expectations.
The Rising picks up right after The Calling leaves off, and leaves little room to play catch up. With so many characters, and such complex relationships, and not having read The Calling in a while, I was a bit lost at the beginning trying to remember exactly what was going on. Still, it didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the story, and I quickly found myself sucked in. As well, I haven’t read the Darkest Powers trilogy so when Chloe and the other characters from that series showed up, I liked them as characters in this story, but I didn’t feel the same thrill of recognition I imagine I would have if I had read about them before. Often, when authors bring it characters from other books or series, the combination feels forced, and the crossover characters little more than cameo appearances. To Armstrong’s credit, the appearance of Chloe and her friends actually enhanced Maya’s story, and provided a resolution to both story lines.
The Rising also gives us deeper insight in to characters’ relationships. Maya takes a turn as a more typical angsty teen in her relationship with her biological father, but in this case, it is perfectly understandable. I absolutely love the romance that develops here, and even though the will they/won’t they aspect does get a bit old after a while, the payoff is well worth it. Armstrong also reveals how high the stakes really are, and how difficult the task for Maya and her friends: how can they find freedom from the Cabal, when the Cabal has the technology needed to help them control their powers? And is freedom even worth fighting for when it might mean reverting to a more animal state of consciousness?
There are no easy answers, and kudos to Armstrong for writing an ending that reflects that, while still satisfying the need for a resolution. In such a series as Darkness Rising, it’s difficult to pull off a quiet ending that doesn’t quite tie up all the loose ends — the temptation is to write an epic, triumphant resolution. Armstrong’s ending took me by surprise, and while she left the possibility open for a sequel, I rather wish she wouldn’t. In a series that has so far subverted so many of my expectations when it comes to YA fiction, this ending, with some remarkably mature decisions from some of the young adult characters, wraps up the trilogy perfectly.
Thank you to Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.