Liz Overberg's Reviews > Promised

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien
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Oct 17, 12

Read from October 14 to 15, 2012

I've spent so long waiting for series sequels in the past couple years that it feels extremely satisfying to complete this trilogy. I won't say that it's the strongest dystopian series I've read, (it's actually one of the weakest), but it had a lot of strong elements.

The story picks up where Prized left off: Gaia and Leon are leading the people of Sylum away from their former home and toward Wharfton and the Enclave. Once there, Gaia intends to set up "New Sylum" outside the wall, by the Unlake, neighboring Wharfton. She believes that the people of Sylum will be able to add much-needed genetic diversity to both Wharfton and the Enclave, and, in return, all she needs from the Enclave is water.

It's a little irritating how quickly Gaia has forgotten how dangerous the Enclave can be and how merciless the Protectorat really is. It's hard to believe that someone who has had the experiences with the Enclave that Gaia has had could really believe that it would be a simple matter of logic and negotiation to start a new settlement next to the Enclave, let alone a settlement that is dependent on and actually threatening to the Enclave.

Ah well....there lies the intrigue and action of this story! Nothing can ever be easy for Gaia and Leon.

Promised bring the return of a terrifying, multi-layered villain: Miles Quarry, the Protectorat. In this final installment, we are a given a much broader view of the Protectorat's personality and his history with Leon. The Protectorat reminds me a little of Mayor Prentiss in the Chaos Walking trilogy: devious, evil, merciless, twisted, but dangerously charismatic and political. O'Brien's ability to craft a complicated villain is one of the most endearing parts of this trilogy. There are minor villains and major villains, villains who are "all bad" and villains who are shades of gray...but in all them, there is something twisted that O'Brien reveals to us. It's enough to give you chills.

Of course, not all of Gaia's problems come from the Enclave. Some of her problems are of her own making: she's afraid to commit to marry Leon, she's overly confident in her ability to solve her problems without help, she struggles to make tough decisions or to fight with violence, she doesn't trust other people's advice when she should....etc., etc., etc. Gaia reminds me a little of Katniss in Mockingjay: in over her head, her real priorities seem to have gotten a little lost somewhere along the way, and she tends to create just as many problems as she solves.

Pros :

The characterization is complicated, but not in a confusing way. Rather, O'Brien creates human characters who have a past and who want a future.

The ending isn't simple, and it's not all happy.


Disappointments :

The genetic engineering plot line takes a back seat in this one. No one from Sylum is concerned about the XX male issue anymore because they've left behind the water that's been mutating their genes. (Wait, what's that you say? They left behind half of their population at Sylum, and the issue is still kind of unresolved? Well...they don't seem to care, so I guess we don't have to either.)

It's almost like no one at all cares all that much anymore about their original concerns with genetics, actually. The Protectorat has forgotten all about genetic diversity and his painstaking efforts to keep the advanced children from their birth parents. Now their is a DNA registry, and advanced children are walking out of the Enclave every day, having reunions with their parents in Wharfton, and then going back home. AND THE PROTECTORAT DOESN'T CARE.

It's really irritating, actually, how much the events of the first novel don't seem to matter anymore. As in: Why did Gaia's parents have to die? What was the point of any of it, really?


This one is definitely recommended for those who read the first two books in the series and are looking for a conclusion, but it's not earth-shattering by any means.


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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Sarah I agree with your assessment. I liked the first one a lot, but this was a disappointing conclusion to what could have been a much stronger series.


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