Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
This book concludes the Caster Chronicles, a young adult series that I’d compare to the Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse, AKA True Blood). The setting is Southern and the town is full of crazy characters, some of which have cool caster powers or super librarian knowledge. Some of the visual images are cool, in a stylized, magic hipster way. The male narrator makes the series unusual in the YA romance genre.
At the end of the last book, Beautiful Chaos, the narrator Ethan sacrificed himself to preserve “the order of things,” by jumping from a water tower to his death. This volume was concerned with his afterlife and return from the dead. Ethan’s travels in the land of the dead gave the series a touch of the epic hero a la Joseph Campbell. The afterlife was imagined in a vivid and original way. There’s a mystery and a quest narrative and a love story. One thing that made me somewhat uncomfortable with the books were their dependence on the magical negro trope.
This series is in the better half of YA lit, far superior to other paranormal romances like Twilight, Fallen, or Hush, Hush. But it’s not quite up to the level of The Fault in Our Stars, Across the Universe, Kristin Cashore’s novels, or Maggie Stiefvater’s fairy books. The language is ok but not remarkable, the drama is a bit contrived, and the books are probably twice as long as they need to be. Worth picking up if you like this kind of thing, but if you don’t you’re not missing much.