BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Devi Morris is beaten and broken, but she’s not down for the count yet. She has one last job that will decide the fate of the universe if only she can stay alive long enough to fulfill all the promises she’s made.
PROS: Intense final volume; heavy on action and moral quandaries; moments of genuine terror and heartbreak; a sharply written conclusion to an already great series.
CONS: A few loose ends that don’t get sufficient answers.
BOTTOM LINE: Masterful storytelling will make this series a classic of the genre. This trilogy deserves a standing ovation!
When we last left Devi Morris, mercenary extraordinaire, she was running for her life from the captain she once trusted and wrestling with the knowledge that every single thing she knew before was a lie. The universe has not been kind to Devi and she’s wounded but defiant. Despite everything that has happened she still feels that her destiny is not up for debate. She will decide what happens to her even if it’s just choosing how she will die. Things get even more dire once Devi reaches the bottom of the rabbit hole and learns the full truth of her situation.
The final volume of The Paradox Trilogy does not disappoint. We hit the ground running with Devi and Rupert and it’s non-stop until the last page. The story is a whirlwind of betrayal, dumb luck and brave heroics. There is redemption for characters who had acted horribly to Devi before and there are some delicious comeuppance for some characters who truly deserved it. There were also moments of just terrible heartbreak as people Devi had relied on for all three novels either met their ends or showed their true colors.
The end of the book was incredibly satisfying. I don’t think I breathed for the entirety of the last fifty pages. I almost broke down crying on a packed commuter train as I reached certain parts that spelled the violent end of some favorite characters and one very noble sacrifice by a former enemy. Armed with her collection of faithful weapons and her shiny mech suit there were also dizzying triumphs as Devi blasts, slashes and shoots her way to victory. Devi is brave, resolute and heart-stoppingly reckless as she does everything in her power to attain her goals and save the universe as well as her own skin.
There’s a touch more emphasis placed on the relationship between Devi and Rupert than in previous volumes, but it doesn’t bog down the action. These are two characters who are sure they won’t live to see tomorrow and know their time together is precious. The romance never becomes cheesy and it never compromises Devi as a strong, smart woman fighting for her survival. I found that really gratifying to read. Sometimes it feels like the archetypal “badass” female character isn’t allowed to be an actual woman with desires and needs and instead becomes a harmful stereotype. Devi was allowed to be unsure and to be emotional. She was allowed to fall in love. She was a fully well-rounded and multi-faceted character who will hopefully be an example to other genre writers on how to write an amazing female character.
Without giving too much away, I think this was the strongest volume in the trilogy. Bach really hit her stride with this one and turned up the intensity to nearly lethal levels. The final bit of world building in this book was thoughtful and powerful. The world Bach had built felt real and dangerous. This was a tightly written story that built on the momentum of the previous two books so perfectly it almost hurts. There were a few loose ends that could have used some attention but the overall end of the trilogy was an excellently written, well crafted work of science fiction storytelling that should become an instant classic of the genre.