Flame is the thrilling conclusion to Amy Kathleen Ryan's Sky Chasers series that began with Glow and continued with Spark. And what an excellent conclusion it is! We get resolution to all the stories, unexpected twists and turns, and hope and despair in equal measure. I was up way past my bedtime finishing this one and I'm really sad it's over.
Flame begins with Waverly going back to the New Horizon after the explosion on the Empyrean. She really has no choice; she must rely on her nemesis Anne Mather and hope that there will be mercy even as she despises everything that's happened. She doesn't know that Seth has escaped to the New Horizon as well, and she is kept under guard. It doesn't take long before both Waverly and Kieran become pawns in a power struggle and it's equally clear that no one cares what really happens to either of them. Meanwhile, Seth roams the ship trying to learn more and get to Waverly, but even that has its issues, as he develops a major infection in his broken hand and his actions are questioned by the very person he most wants to save.
There's so much more going on in this novel that it's difficult to express it all in one little review. The main thing I came away with was the plethora of emotion experienced while reading. This may be a young adult book, but I was dragged through a morass of depression, hope, deceit, desperation, relief, uncertainty, delirium, rebelliousness...you name it, it's there in spades. Waverly becomes so beaten down that my heart hurt for her; Seth's determination made me fear for his life more than once. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Ryan took us in a new direction that had me upset and turning the pages to see what happened next. There are disgusting people and situations, and there are tender moments that balance the story beautifully. There's lots of action, and yet there's lots of introspection as well. This book, quite simply, has it all. A brilliant ending to an exciting trilogy.