One of the reasons that I have mentioned for really liking this series is because it ends. Sometimes, you read this dystopian stuff and it ends up being a crap ending because nobody knows what to do with the heroes when it is all over. Should you kill them? Should you have them walk into the sunset? Redemption is a conclusion and a beginning. The characters have a lot of work to do in their future but you aren't worried about them anymore.
Let's talk about that cover.
This is the only cover from this series that I didn't like. That's not to say that it isn't a pretty cover but it feels like a cop out. If I were the publisher or writer, I would have had that same blonde model on it but just in a different capacity.
That tree has a lot to do with the plot of the last book, probably being Burrom's tree. (Even though that was a maple and this one looks distinctly oakey) But that girl has been on all of the others and she could have fit on this one too. This cover gives no real hints about the 4th book, but rather shows the grayness that I imagine when the post-apocalyptic world is described. It's a good cover. It just doesn't match at all.
I got so angry with Cormac at the beginning of this book. I mean, he leaves Jo in the middle of this angry impossible world. But it is true to who he is as a character. He is willing to sacrifice (and on occasion, force others to sacrifice) for their own good and for the greater good of others. I believe that he never gave Jo anything she couldn't handle and it forced her to grow up which she desperately needed to do.
Jo was a selfish girl and only really looked out for herself. She throws grand pity parties and is horribly flawed. She drinks too much. She acts out and has an attitude. But you know what? Cormac loves her anyways and that is beautiful.
The way I feel about you doesn't come with a set of restrictions. There are no rules that say if you do this or you don't do that, I won't care anymore. This is just an aspect of who you are and I love you for the entirety of you, not for the different pieces I can pull out.
That quote practically makes the book for me. That's how love is! It isn't instant most of the time and it isn't easy. You have to take the good and the bad of the person and accept them for who they are. Cormac does that perfectly and it takes Jo a while to wise up.
Cormac is protective and domineering but that's what Jo needs in so many ways. He is the rock that she doesn't want to lean on. He is strong for her when she is tired of pretending to be Super Woman.
This book isn't, of course, just about their romance. The Senator has finally mobilized and battle to end things is near. Jo comes to the realization that something has to give. A change has to come in order for things to balance out. She recognizes that she has to be their champion and the one that fights for all of the people that are left. She takes so much responsibility for what has happened and she is the one that fixes it.
The ending of this book is wonderful as already stated. It is not a happy ending. It is not a nice redeemed world wrapped up in a pretty pink bow. There is still a lot of work to do to repair all of the damage that has been wrought. But there is peace. There is a sense of everything being ok. You get the sense that this is what these characters were created to do. They weren't created for drama or angst. They were made to save the world.
So despite the problems that the series has, I still rate it all as 5/5 stars overall. I'm sad to part with Jo, Cormac and Burrom but I still believe that if the world was to end as we know it, this is how I would want it to go.