Darkness Rising felt somewhat like the final Hobbit movie in that it’s almost like one long battle scene. The Seers spend most of the book on the run from the authorities who think they’re terrorists until the climactic Final Battle.
I like that the author began the book with a quick summary of the trilogy to date, as it helped remind me of the events so far, but I still found myself struggling to keep up with all the characters. There are so many Seers that apart from the lead twins Jasmine and Jade, and from Eva who has a tragic backstory (in an earlier book, she watched her twin being tortured and killed), it was hard to keep the other Seers distinct, and so really care much about their parts in the Final Battle.
The story also felt long, much longer than 200 pages, and I think it’s because the chapters ended up feeling the same throughout — the Seers find a new hiding place, new baddies appear, there’s more talk about climate change and corrupt politicians, etc.
Now, I love a good environmentalist story, so I really wanted to love this story with its commentary on corrupt and greedy politicians, unjust immigration and refugee policies, racism in social views of terrorism, and so on. The trilogy tackles a LOT of important subjects and with a fantastical spin tailored for young adults.
But it all feels a tad too convoluted. The various themes don’t quite mesh, and the fantasy elements feel less like a fully realized world and more like a vehicle created and manipulated for the themes. For example, late in the book, Jasmine thinks about how the Seers got their powers from the earth, so they can save the planet. Great concept, but not at all the mythology I got from the trilogy. Possibly I missed it, but it mostly felt like the Seers were super powered teenage girls who can fight demons and happened to live in a time when the big bads were using demons to defend their planet-killing activities. There’s also a big reveal at the end about the Toronto mayor Sandra Smith’s motivations, and it’s suitably horrific, but also there was no lead up to it, no “aha” moment as I remembered all the clues that pointed to that being her goal. Instead it just felt random, and so when Jasmine called it “evil beyond Hitler”, the horror felt unearned. Side characters like love interests Raphael and Sam (? the guy who flirted with Jade?) show up near the end but again because they weren’t really interwoven through the story, their significance in the Final Battle feels unearned.
And for all the build up, the Final Battle wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped, and seemed to be resolved really quickly.
It was also much gorier than I expected, but that will possibly appeal to some readers.
And finally, the kitten near the end felt random, but I liked it. 🙂
TL;DR: Lots of great and important messages, but the story (book and trilogy overall) felt messy.
Thanks to Dundurn for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.