There is always something scary about reading the final book in a series. Here it is – the conclusion to a story you have been invested in for multiple books and often many years. Will it live up to your expectations? Will it resolve the way you want it to? Will the conclusion fit with the rest of the story?
These were my thoughts this past week as I read Death Before Daylight, the much awaited finale for Shannon A. Thompson’s Timely Death Trilogy. I loved the first two books and gobbled them down faster than I could download them to my Kindle. So when Shannon sent me the PDF of the final book, I was nervous to say the least. After all, the first two books build up the anticipation of a final battle between the First Descendant, Shoman, and the Second Descendant, Darthon. We learn that one of these descendants must die in order for balance to be restored to the Light and Dark realms. So who will it be?
One thing this series has been good at doing from Chapter 1 of Minutes Before Sunset is taking everything you think you know and turning it over on its head. After all, the book practically opens with Eric/Shoman saying, “The Light was evil, and it always has been. Forget archetypes. They’re completely wrong, and they always will be.” Archetypes being wrong is practically the premise of Death Before Daylight, where we learn that everything is not as it seems. Though the Light is evil, the Dark and its elders are full of mistakes themselves. As it turns out, there is a lot to be learned from the Light.
There are so many things I loved about this book. I loved that I got to dive down deeper into the Light realm and see where they lived and learn more about the history of the Light and Dark. For so long I have been trapped in the rocky, damp confines of the Shelter. So to explore the ever-changing Light realm was a refreshing, though not so pleasant, experience. It was also great to see the development of Darthon and, of course, to learn who he is and his connection to Jessica, the Third Descendant. Yes, I had some suspects in mind, and I was pretty much right on the money by the time all was said and done, but the way it all comes to fruition is fantastic. The development of other characters, such as Linda and Robb, who we see more of after they transfer to Hayworth, and the development of Jessica’s friendship with Crystal are all welcome additions in Death before Daylight. Needless to say, with all these teens being potential Lights and Shades, it’s hard to know who to trust when reading. Because of this, the ending of this trilogy is nowhere near neat, but would it be believable if it was? Was the ending messy? Yes. Tragic? Oh, yes. But fitting? Original? Did it give closure? Yes, yes, YES!
However, no book is ever perfect. So without further ado, I want to say there were some things that I didn’t LOVE! Now these are not major complaints, just things that kind of left me meh, for lack of better words. Things that, though I feel this way, other people might not. For one, though the ending was fantastic, unpredictable in a lot of aspects, and overall wonderful, I ended the book thinking, “Ok…” I had and still have no burning desire to reread this ASAP. My heart wasn’t bursting with joy at how it all came together, nor was I shattered that certain characters died. I don’t know if there is anything Shannon could have done to make me love the ending more, nor am I Shannon’s sole reader. It isn’t her responsibility to please me with every writing decision she makes. It is her responsibility to write her characters and story as she sees fit. The ending was great. It really was. But something about it just left me sitting there in my bed not really thinking much of anything.
There is also this teenage lack of trust that permeates this book, more so than the previous ones. Don’t get me wrong, it’s typical Young Adult genre distrust. You find it in Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, etc. And maybe now that I am a married, pregnant, twenty-something, that distrust does not resonate with me. The distrust fits the story and is often valid. For instance, the younger characters in Death Before Daylight have reasons not to trust the elders of the Dark. The elders keep secrets from the younger generations – important and potentially life-altering secrets. However, there are times I could not help thinking that Jessica would be better off if she would trust Eric, or that Eric would be better off if he would clear his head and trust Jessica enough to realize what she is doing. (I mean, if they couldn’t trust their friends or their elders, couldn’t they at least trust each other?) There were even times where I thought that maybe if these young whippersnappers would tell the adults what they were up to, the adults might actually help out. But alas, that is not how teens operate. Maybe it has been a few years since my teenage days, or maybe I trusted adults too much, but there was a definite disconnect between this lack of trust and myself. Then again, I am not necessarily Shannon’s target audience.
Finally, there was a plot hole. (Yes, now is your turn to glare at me for noticing every little plot hole.) BEWARE THE SPOILER, BY THE WAY! One of Jessica’s powers that we learn about in the first book is her ability to create these purple sparkles that seemingly have no purpose other than being pretty and making the ground glittery looking. There seems to be nothing significant about them, but c’mon! An author does not drop a tidbit like that in there with no purpose of revisiting it. Flash forward to the second book – Jessica’s memory is erased. Eric is busy moping around about his lost girlfriend, the first person in a long time he has made such a strong connection with, and worrying about his upcoming battle with Darthon. As he sits there, he creates little sparkles too – like Jessica’s, but blue. Again, you know the author will revisit this magical glitter. (Cue drumroll.) THIRD BOOK! Turns out Jessica’s pretty purple rain of sparkles summons Darthon to her! However, it is apparently a power that only Darthon and Jessica share. Yet, wait…. Shoman made these sparkles too, back in book two! Whaaaat? And if the sparkles called Darthon to the Third Descendant, why did he never come all the times Jessica made it rain? Was he just biding his time until she was ready to meet him and learn about the Light?
Don’t get me wrong, the plot hole is really a minor detail in the grand scheme of things. None of my issues with Death Before Daylight were deal breakers towards my affection for this trilogy. I still love it. I still think Shannon did a fantastic job. I still love YA literature. I still think this was a perfect ending to the trilogy. I loved learning about the Light, and I loved learning more about these elusive characters. Overall, Shannon ends the Timely Death Trilogy in the most fitting manner possible by meeting and defying our expectations, teaching us that not everything is as it seems, and that true friendship is ultimately what gets you through hard times.
Finally, I am excited to be a part of the upcoming cover reveal for Minutes Before Sunset on March 18! Now that Shannon has anew publisher, the Timely Death Trilogy is getting published with beautiful new covers. Having seen the cover myself, I think the new cover will be a hit. I personally like it better than the original cover, so I am interested to see what her readers think of the new one! Stay tuned for the cover reveal a week from now. Until then, I just have to share with you all my cool Member of the Dark Badge!
What do you think about Death Before Daylight? Was it a great ending to the trilogy, or did it leave you wanting more?