by Tara Hudson
Read: April 9 - 11, 2013
Published: June 4, 2013 by HarperTeen
Source: Around the World Arc Tours
Category: Paranormal Romance, Ghosts, YA
Series: Hereafter book 3
NOTE: Elegy is the third book in a trilogy, but it is safe to read if you have yet to start this series. Find my review for book two, Arise, HERE.
A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does.
Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again.Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back. (From Goodreads)
The third book in a ghost trilogy is where I start to dread the fact that I'm reading a series that features a relationship between a human and someone who is dead. It's when reality sets in, and I realize that there aren't a lot of options that end positively for the couple in question. Although I love the HEA ending, it's a little unrealistic for the ghost to come back to life again, and most other endings involve a lot of sadness. Of course I won't divulge what occurs in Elegy, except to say that it is filled with love and hope, and that I was pleasantly surprised by how appropriate and true it felt to these characters and their story.
My favorite part of the Hereafter series, and the reason I've continued to read it, is the relationship between Amelia Ashley and Joshua Mayhew, who only found each other after Amelia's life had ended. Their relationship contains the sweetness of first love, but also strength and maturity from shared trials, as well as an aching inevitability that Amelia is living on borrowed time. Their commitment to each other despite impossible circumstances, and a constant threat from the Netherworld, gives their relationship a steadfastness of a more mature couple. I love that they are always kind, respectful and supportive of each other, and that despite their major life differences (i.e. Joshua is alive and Amelia is not), I felt like they truly understand each other. They also have a normal, inspiring relationships, which is sometimes rare the young adult paranormal genre (especially the relatable/normal part).
Not only together, I appreciated both Amelia and Joshua individually. Amelia is a likable heroine, who has come a long way from the scared and confused girl at the start of the first book. She is smart and determined to save the people that she loves, but she is no martyr. Amelia is dedicated to defeating the demons and wraiths that have been the cause of so much heartbreak and destruction in her town. In all the pressure she faces, she doesn't start pulling away or making irrational decisions, but decides to do what she believes will make the most difference.
Joshua is in many ways a regular teen boy, which is also refreshing in this genre. He is not a mysterious bad boy, or a traumatized, tortured soul. He has friends, plays baseball and respects his parents. He is open about his feelings for Amelia and is always supportive of her. He is the kind of boy that I wish I'd known in high school.
Of course, Amelia and Joshua are not the only two characters in this series. Several others have stood out to me. I enjoyed Amelia's friction and tentative friendship with Jillian, her contentious relationship with Ruth, her constant worry over her living mother and questions about where her father ended up after his death. In the final book we also get a glimpse of past characters again, and some are in much better places than others.
However, throughout the entire series, especially in the second and third books, I had a lot of trouble with the world building, most specifically the ghost mythology. Eventually it got to be distracting enough to affect my reading. I felt like the limits of how much I could suspend my belief in order to enjoy Amelia and Joshua's story, were being tested beyond their bounds. Many of the ghost rules did not make any practical sense to me, especially once elements change in book 2. Some of the rules seemed to be added just to create tension to the plot, and not because of a good explanation.
If you're looking for a sweet love story within a supernatural setting that has ghost elements, this series is a great choice. If you get hung up on world building and the practicalities of mythology, you may have some problems with this series. In the end I am glad that I met Amelia Ashely and Joshua Mayhew, but my enjoyment of their story would have been much stronger if the ghost elements had made better sense to me.
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion
Love Triangle Factor: NONE for the series