My feelings on this book started very mixed. Just like with the last book, there was too much recap. I knew the last prophecy had to come into play, but I’m really kind of tired of prophecies (more on that in a minute). There was also just too much fighting. I knew there would be – this book is about war – but I was sort of dismayed that this little boy who had been so peaceful in the beginning had been turned into a soldier, a warrior, and a killing machine when he needed to be. I understand exactly why this was necessary, but still, the hopelessness of the whole thing was a real downer. Especially since he could have just killed the Bane back in book 2 and not so many people/creatures would have been killed in the long-run, even if there WAS war. There was also what I felt was an unnecessary romance between Gregor and Luxa. While I’m not at all surprised that these two twelve year olds got crushes on each other, the way they handled themselves was far more adult-like than it should have been. I had a difficult time believing it. Lastly, I got irritated having to sort out coded messages myself, though I’m sure my son got a kick out of that part.
On the other hand, the second half of the book really made up for the first half. I found myself stirred to getting teary-eyed a couple times. Not everyone we loved escaped. Even though Gregor’s family is reunited, other families are not so lucky, and even Gregor’s family is not unscathed. Gregor himself has this conflicted identity, not really fitting in above or below ground, something heavy for a young boy to live with the rest of his life. He’s plagued by nightmares and loss, as well as horror of the things he’s done, even if those things were necessary. There is hope at the end, but no real resolution. Also, I love that Ripred finally comes out and says he thinks the prophecies are complete nonsense (which is how I’ve progressively felt throughout the books). Then of course there was Ripred’s relationship with Lizzie, which I found more touching than probably anything else in the whole series.
I do feel like even though this is the final installment, I can see more books coming from this world. We don’t really know if the temporary truce will hold, or what Gregor will choose to do with himself. We never got an explanation for Hazard being a Halflander (I personally wonder if Mrs. Cormaci’s daughter is his mother). There is so much more that can be built on, either on Gregor’s side or in the Underlander world. It makes my imagination go into overdrive, which is lovely! I can’t say this is my favorite series ever, but overall I really enjoyed it.