Happy sigh. It is always nice when a trilogy I love ends on a high note, and Horizon, the final book Jenn Reese's Above World trilogy, does just that.
This is a review of an ARC received in exchange for a fair review.
Aluna and Hoku, Kampii from the City of Shifting Tides, and their friends, Equian Dash and winged Aviar Calli, are determined to stop a war. The maniacal ex-scientist Karl Strand is planning to conquer the world with his enormous army of tech-enhanced soldiers . . . unless the four friends can get to Strand first. Aluna’s plan is dangerous: pose as Upgraders and infiltrate the army. But the enemy isn’t what they expected and the strategy begins to crumble. When the friends are torn apart by conflicting allegiances, their slim chance of avoiding war seems to disappear completely. For Aluna and Hoku, what began as a quest to save their own people has become a mission to save the world. But do Aluna and her friends have any hope of defeating Strand if they can’t take him on together?
My favorite thing about these books have been the characters. Aluna, Hoku, Calli, and Dash won my hearts thoroughly in Above World and Vachir, Nathif, and Tayan found their own places in it during Mirage. I went into this book with a whole lot of love for these characters and an equal amount of fear for their safety and well-being. I was also concerned about their relationships with each other based on the synopsis, as that is the main reason I love them all so much. They are who they are because of the way the care for, stand with, and help each other despite their differences. There are some sad moments in the book. They are all separated, Dash and Vachir going one way, Calli returning to Sky Feather Landing, and Aluna and Hoku returning to Shifting Tides, as they are all driven by a need to save their own people. What I really liked though was how they worked through that and understood what the others had to do and why. It was cause for minor conflict and there were some misunderstandings, as is always the case when people are tired, stressed, and scared, but through it all the foundation of their friendship and loyalty to each other stayed strong. From the beginning I've loved the theme of family and choice of community that is woven through these stories. This final installment stays true to that while also demonstrating how complicated and hard the world is to live in and how nothing is ever simple, particularly the choices we have to make in a crisis. It also manages to introduce even more characters who have earned places in my heart too.
All four of the main characters experience some harrowing things over the course of their final journeys. It is all very definitely there, but not too detailed and in your face, a perfect balance for the intended audience. The book starts with them all together and then as they start to split up follows them each in the places they are going. It's a lot of action, but it was not at all difficult to keep track of. I particularly enjoyed watching Aluna, Hoku, and Calli return to their homes. They've all seen and experienced so much of the outside world and it changed them. Watching them all face the changes in themselves with their new views of their homes is fascinating, and one I think will appeal to the older MG reader who is questioning their own place in the world and seeing their families and communities through a different lens than they did as a child. I really liked the way the story ended too, but won't go into too many details of why to avoid spoilers.
This trilogy is also a favorite of my daughter, who is nine, and several of my students so I know how well this works with the MG demographic. I think they are going to eat up this book as fast and happily as they did the others.
I received an e-galley from the publisher, Candlewick Press, via NetGalley. Horizon will be available on April 8th.