At the end of this novel, I actually said out loud to my empty apartment, “WHAT?!” Erika Johansen did it again. The final novel in this series of three had me playing along the entire time.
Without spoiling the wild ride, I’ll just say that this book reminded me of what the writers/producers of Star Trek did in the 2009 film: they created a story line where time shifted and therefore they could create a whole new series of adventures and planets. Genius!! Johansen does something similar, which is why at the end I couldn’t help but utter an impassioned and appreciative “What?!” Nicely done. (I know I’ve said it before about her other books, but this woman writes beautifully!)
After three long epics, I appreciate that Johansen took a risk. On Goodreads, it seems fans are divided on Johansen’s story decision. Yet again, I am interested in her craft and how she creates twists and causes the reader to join her in several moments where suspension of disbelief is necessary, yet not betrayed. What a fabulous series!
Ok, enjoy gushing about the author’s brilliance. Johansen has some thoughtful commentary on society and how greed and selfishness leads to hatred which leads to harm. “Hatred is wasy, and lazy to boot. It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us. Love costs; this is its value” (Pg 81). Throughout the novel, characters are forced to make hard decisions about life and death. In the end, it is those who love that end up struggling; in the end, it is those who want to do the right thing because of their love for others that end up hurt. Yet, time after time, those who love, even though it is the harder choice, have a richer life. They have relationships, friends, and peace. As with most societies, even today, religion and religious beliefs, beliefs that were started out of love, end of being sources of jealousy and posturing. Trying to be perfect and trying to look good destroys lives, as we see throughout this novel and in real life. Yet the foundations of religions are love, compassion, peace, and forgiveness. I think that as humans, we forget that these values are hard and require work. It is easier to sit through a sermon that tells you three ways to be a better leader, or three ways to love your neighbours more. Yet when it comes to making life-changing decisions and doing the right thing, it’s easy to draw back out of fear and stay in the bubble of safety, waiting out the upheaval or change. But that is not the way of love.
I think one of the reasons that I loved this series so much is that characters make mistakes, giant mistakes that destroy things. Characters also show the strength of compassion and forgiveness. It’s not easy and Johansen shows that the struggle is real: sometimes life isn’t black and white, most of the time it’s grey. So how do we find the courage to love others, even when it means sacrifice and cost? I’m not sure. That’s why this series has left me so happy: it was a pleasure to read, it has unexpected twists and turns, and it challenged me in my own views about life and society.