Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Chaos by Sarah Fine

Title: Chaos (Guards of the Shadowlands, #3) 

Author: Sarah Fine

Rating: 4 Stars

If you'd asked me even a month ago, I'd have told you that Chaos was probably a finale I'd pass on. I loved Sarah Fine's Sanctum but ever since Fractured, I've been less-than-impressed by her work. Granted, Of Metal and Wishes was promising and I haven't even read Scan, but nothing Fine has written since Sanctum has managed to truly capture my attention.

And then Chaos arrived on my doorstep.

I rarely say this, but Chaos is an incredible conclusion to an innovative series. Sanctum was thought-provoking, compelling, and above all, intelligent. I loved the emotional discourse, the in-depth analysis of a depressive psyche, and I only hoped to see more of it in Fractured. Unfortunately, the latter devolved into a string of love triangles, unnecessary drama, and a cliffhanger ending as the cherry on top. Needless to say, Chaos sank quite low on my list of books to be read.

Oddly enough, it was Sarah Fine's Stories from the Shadowlands which finally convinced me to pick up Chaos. Malachi's journal entries in Stories from the Shadowlands, giving readers insight into his thought process during the dramatic events of Fractured, grudgingly allowed me to re-evaluate these characters and dive into Chaos with an open mind. And, readers, am I glad I did. Chaos completely lived up to the potential within Sanctum--and then some. As a finale, it satisfied. As a novel, it kept me entertaining. And a piece of literature, it made me think. I really don't ask for much more.

Chaos picks up directly where Fractured left off, throwing us back into the realm of the Shadowlands. What I love about re-visiting Fine's fantasy world is the fact that it is such an intelligent one. It exists because of depression, suicide, and other issues of mental illness that plague the human race. As a result, I constantly find myself re-evaluating what I know of these issues from Fine's perspective and I feel as if she uses the medium of paranormal/fantasy in the best possible way: to use fictional situations to highlight real-life problems. It's brilliant, gripping, and above all, integral to our society today. I particularly love that here is a YA trilogy that actually says something that needs to be heard by teens. To all those who constantly oppose the YA genre, Fine's trilogy proves that there is plenty of substance in YA just as in Adult fiction.

Yet, the reason Chaos stands out is due to its impeccable style. Fine strings together a variety of plot threads in this novel; so many that, at first, it seems impossible she's going to pull it off. But she does. Chaos never feels rushed or too slow. Fine's pacing is perfect and, moreover, even after two previous novels, her characters still feel fresh. Lela and Malachi are characters we've been with for years now and while parts of them are transparent and predictable, they are a far cry from the people we originally met them as. Furthermore, Fine brings back old villains and new heroes which make Chaos stand out within the trilogy instead of merely blending into the background as "just another" book in the "Guards of the Shadowlands" series.

Nevertheless, the romance is where Fine truly shines. Forgetting the drama of Fractured, we finally see Lela and Malachi as a united front in Chaos and the result of their strengths combined--their weaknesses balanced--is unbeatable. I love these two. I believe in these two. And they give me so much hope for the people in this world. Their journeys throughout Chaos are littered with despair, instances where fragility is on the brink of strength, but as Fine shows us, what doesn't kill you truly does make you stronger. I love the continued ambiguity in their morality and their depth never ceases to amaze me. I almost don't want to leave these characters behind because, really, there is more to them we still don't know and seeing them change over the years? I want that.

If it isn't already clear, Chaos has made me a die-hard fan of this series all over again. I can't wait to pick up Fine's next novel, in the hopes it surprises me as pleasantly as this one did, and if Fractured was even a fraction as irritating for you as it was for me, I can't recommend Chaos highly enough. Sarah Fine: well done.

P.S. -- I've begun writing for CHANGE Magazine, an online magazine run by college students with articles regarding social and political change in the world and specifically on campuses. I would be forever grateful if you'd take a few minutes to check out my first article in CHANGE Magazine, an interview with a domestic abuse and sexual violence organization. Thanks! :)


  1. I'm so happy to hear you found the conclusion satisfying, Keertana! I loved the first book, but I have yet to continue with the series. I'm a little afraid to pick up Fractured after your thoughts, though. At least it wraps up nicely!

    Congrats on your new writing job! I'm sure you'll do a fabulous job and I'll swing by and check out your article! :)

  2. I have middle book syndrome issues with most of the trilogies. I'm glad that final book was amazing and satisfying read.
    Congratulations on your new job l! :)

  3. Yay! I am so happy you read this and loved it. I love this series and it is really hard saying goodbye to it but thankfully Sarah is an amazing author and has another couple of series in the works. ;)

  4. I so need to pick up this series. I love a complex book that just works. I am also cautious about ending books, but this really sounds like it ends well. Sold me even more on the series!

  5. "we finally see Lela and Malachi as a united front in Chaos and the result of their strengths combined--their weaknesses balanced--is unbeatable"

    YAY!!!!! This makes me incredibly happy Keertana! I enjoyed Fractured, but that ending was brutal for sure and I was worried about where things would go in this book. Looks like I don't need to be worried in the least and I can't wait to get my hands on this. Gorgeous review as always!

  6. Congrats on the magazine!

    I'm glad this finale was really good for you, because I do want to read these soon!

  7. I have heard the most amazing things about Sanctum but then Fractured happened and I wanted to give up. Well I won't do that now as this one seems worth suffering through Fractured. Maybe I'll like it a bit more. Anyhow I'm really happy that this one ended the right way. Great review, Keertana :)

  8. I'm so glad that this one surprised you and left you satisfied, Keertana! I've yet to read anything by this author but I really want to try this series--sounds brilliant.

    Lovely review! <33

  9. Congrats for the online magazine! It's nice to see you had a great time with this one mainly as I know it's difficult with ends. But this one sounds really well done! great review!

  10. wow beautiful review, so glad that you gave this final book a shot despite the mess in book two. I really want to read this series, it seems all my friends seem to enjoy it. I am also glad to hear that the triangle worked out and for the best.

    Congrats on getting published!

  11. I just glimpsed through this b/c I plan to read this series in full by the end of the year, but I'm SO GLAD to hear that the first and third installments are strong, and hopefully, being able to read them all together will help me manage the middle. I've heard such good things about these books and cannot wait to discover them for myself.


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