Overview (No Spoilers):
As the final installment of The Combat Codes saga, Blacklight Born is a satisfying conclusion to an action packed trilogy that continues to evolve with each subsequent novel, usually with Darwin steering the story in an unanticipated direction. I genuinely enjoyed listening to Blacklight Born, though there were several leaps in the story that left me wishing it had been fleshed out more thoroughly. I’ll discuss these jumps a bit more in the Additional Insight section below to avoid revealing any of the delightful plot twists Darwin has embedded throughout this read. That said, there were gaps in the process that left lingering questions for the reader. Some of these jumps are eventually resolved through flashbacks, serving to add depth to both the story and the characters, while other threads are left unresolved.
Blacklight Born contains enough material for two books as the first segment has Cego’s crew on a school pilgrimage that conveniently aligns with the dangerous goal of finding their wayward friend after his prison break at the end of Grievar’s Blood. The second half of the book has the group back at the Lyceum, taking classes and preparing for their end of the year trials as all out war threatens. I’m keeping to the main themes to avoid spoilers, but Darwin squeezes in all sorts of battles, intrigue, flashbacks, and heartbreaking deaths. Somehow he manages an ending that aligns all of the moving pieces of the series. As I mentioned above, I wish there would have been sections further elaborated upon, as there are various loose ends that are never quite addressed, for example Cego’s tattoos acting strangely during Grievar’s Blood.
Overall, Blacklight Born was a highly enjoyable ending to The Combat Codes saga that saves hope from a situation mired in despair, especially with the last action packed battle sequences that keeps the reader riveted with each choreographed move.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- If I remember right, we had a perspective in Grievar’s Blood that followed Silas, or at least someone near him. I feel like that vantage point was dearly missed in Blacklight Born as Silas became relegated to a one dimensional ‘bad guy’.
- It was widely known that the kids went on pilgrimage for the school, however they (along with Murray) left the path to join with the Flux where they played ‘rebel’ for a mission in order to get close to Cego again. It was explained that the school let them back in due to Murray’s death but how could they rejoin so easily when they had left to join the rebels? Wouldn’t the government have come to interrogate them?
- Cego’s seamless return to school was also confusing. How could he have returned after being arrested and found guilty in Grievar’s Blood? Let alone, have violently escaped jail in the care of a famous rebel who is also his brother? Wouldn’t the government have wanted to return Cego to their clutches to interrogate?
- How could Sol and Cego, as well as the other Whelps return to the same level as they were before? Sol skipped a whole year and Cego never completed level two but now they’re both at level three like nothing had happened?
- In book two, Grievar’s Blood, both Shiar and Aon exhibit similar behavior of talking to someone who wasn’t there. Aon turns out to be a hivemind, does that mean that Shiar was too? Silas also talks to someone that isn’t there, so was he as well?
- How was Farmer still alive at the end of the book?
- I enjoyed the twist that Kori Shimo was actually Sam. How did that switch actually happen, especially when Silas and Cego can recognize each other? Why did Sam not come forward sooner?
- Cego was the only two of his brothers that was deemed faulty and set to be terminated. Why was he faulty?