My thoughts: Reading any book by Anna Godbersen is bound to be quite a whirlwind. There's the luxurious scenery, the parties, the presence of the rich, beautiful and famous, and the girls in the center of it all, hiding secrets and trying to make it. Both the Luxe series and this one are great at evoking the time in which the stories occur, and both are very good at not leaving me indifferent. I enjoy reading them, almost like a guilty pleasure, even if the main characters do drive me nuts.
The middle book of this trilogy, Beautiful Days, was the weakest of the three, and it actually managed to get me mad at everything in the book. I was frustrated with the Roaring Twenties' hedonism as it was shown, and I really hated two of the three main characters.
When I think about it, I still do hate and despise those characters. Astrid is still a vapid, indecisive girl who gets too easily distracted with shiny things, and Letty still is so, so dumb, and has everything handed over to her, not having to fight ever for anything she wants, not having the guts to try to achieve it. But there's some sort of evolution in them that I appreciated.
And I remember I kinda dislike a few of the main characters in the Luxe series, so disliking characters isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's probably a sign of good characterization, since not everyone is likeable. Well, as long as I can somewhat respect them and their motives in the end, I consider myself satisfied. And this time around, I was satisfied.
I didn't mention Cordelia. I do adore Cordelia, she's smart, sassy, brave and she sets out to do things she's never done before. Her ending... she didn't deserve it. The other girls got the endings they didn't deserve, and Cordelia didn't get the ending she did deserve. I mean, it's perfect, story-wise, but I hate her ending. I hate it with a burning passion.
Funnily enough, I kinda like most of the boys that surround these girls. Max is adorable, and I love his bond with Cordelia. Victor developed a cute crush on Astrid that became something more. And Grady, poor Grady, was pining throughout the whole trilogy for Letty.
Charlie is a moron, really, and a bully, and he uses his brawns instead of his brains, but I can see the allure of a personality like him. Valentine, on the other hand, was really too good to be true. As for Thom, even though I couldn't forgive him for his role in what happened to Darius, I managed to understand and I pitied him, in the end.
The story was much more engaging this time around, and I found myself devouring the pages to know what would happen. We got to see some new aspects of these characters' lives, and meet some new people. And it all ended with a bang... wow, I didn't think I'd get to see the consequences of bootlegging and the Prohibition, but I'm glad I did. It's not bootlegging until there's a shooting or two.
The epilogue was quite interesting. It evoked The Great Gatsby for me - I think that was probably the author's intention - because it had that sad, longing feeling of Nick's narration. I enjoyed it. Actually, I wished we got to see more of Billie, almost like she was a fourth girl, because she sounds awesome. And I wished that Billie got to tell the whole story, not just the first book's prologue and the last book's epilogue. I think she would have made as an interesting narrator as Nick: both not exactly in the middle of action, both describing to the reader a tragedy - the loss of an era.
Publisher: Harper (HarperCollins)