Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
Format read: Finished copy - purchased
Then Lydia glimpses a world in which the Montauk Project never existed. The Project has taken so much from Lydia already, but she knows that she will sacrifice everything to make her vision of a world without the Project a reality.
Publishers Weekly said that "readers will be hooked" by Rachel Carter's plot-twisting So Close to You series. The conspiracy theories, romance, and compelling "what if?" questions build to a satisfying series end, making Find Me Where the Water Ends the perfect fit for the teen fans of light science fiction like The Time Traveler's Wife
After reading it on release day, I'm happy to say that it's everything I wanted in a trilogy, and more. I'm going to try and keep the main points of the review vague, since I think you guys really need to read this book (and the rest of the trilogy) for yourselves.
Things that worked:
The Lydia we meet in Find Me Where the Water Ends is worlds away from the Lydia of the first two books. She's been conscripted into the Montauk Project against her will, and is now dark, cynical and feeling without any autonomy.
Carter does a fantastic job of showing how Lydia navigates the coldness and the brutality of her new life, but also manages to retain a spark of humanity when she meets people who remind her of who she is deep inside. Even as she commits acts she would not have previously considered, readers will not only continue to root for her to get out of her current situation, but for Lydia to also find her own happy ending.
All in all, Carter has done such a great job of building Lydia's journey and character development, readers will likely see the influence of the Lydia from the previous two books working its way into the decisions and reactions that she has in this third book. There's a sense of completion and genuine finality as the book ends, which is also the perfect end to the character arc.
Carter does a good job of continuing to develop the reach and the scope of the Montauk Project into this third book. We're constantly left wondering just how and why Lydia has been brought into this organization, and what the end game will be.
There's a constant sense of Lydia looking over her shoulder, which definitely helps amp up the tension and anticipation as Lydia works toward her final goal of eliminating the Montauk Project once and for all.
One of the most complicated part of a time traveling story involving multiple time periods, is making sure the world-building is coherent and logical. Carter has done a great job with this in previous books, and continues to do so in this one.
She develops everything in a way where you can see the practical evolution of the time period that Lydia is in, and even how people respond to Lydia and vice versa. Lydia travels around during Find Me Where The Water Ends, but I was especially struck with one of the time period that she travels to, when she realizes that scarcity and diminishing resources isn't just isolated to food and minerals.
Even though this plays more of a background to Lydia's personal character arc, I have no doubt that it will make readers, both young and old, think about the possibilities of certain real-world events evolving.
Find Me Where the Water Ends is very much Lydia's coming-of-age. Part of that coming-of-age involves her relationship with Wes, and Rachel is very careful in showing just how Lydia's approach toward him has evolved over time.
Readers will likely appreciate Lydia's pragmatic attitude toward Wes and their future. She's realistic and firm, setting up boundaries and understandings that have only naturally developed considering everything they've been through. There's no romanticization - though, she is romantic! - of who they are or what they can or cannot have, and she approaches all of her actions with that sensibility.
The life lessons:
Unlike the previous two books in the trilogy, there's a certain emphasis in Find Me Where the Water Ends on what it means to adjust your life expectations as you get older.
Lydia has had certain dreams for most of her life - e.g. attending Columbia - that she's had changed, albeit not voluntarily. Similarly, other secondary characters had other aspirations that have changed, as the Montauk Project has come in and eliminated many of their life choices for them.
However, the characters never really despair over having to change those goals. They admit that it's kind of a terrible position to be in, but they also adapt with a certain degree of maturity and thoughtfulness that I think readers will not only admire, but find valuable.
It's definitely the type of life lesson that I wish I had seen in more YA books while I was actually in the YA age range, and I'm really pleased that younger readers will have that positivity associated with adapting to life.
It's always tough ending a book in a trilogy. Without spoiling anything, I will say that Rachel Carter definitely knows what it means to give audiences a good ending, while also making it realistic and believable.
I actually thought about it while reading, and I think that this ending is the most satisfying ending that I've read in almost any YA trilogy I've read in the past four+ years.
Things to consider:
I'll be frank: I loved this plotting decision on Rachel's part. Not only is it very true to real life - you sometimes just don't know why things have happened the way they did - it also really emphasizes the idea that as people get older, they have to adjust their expectations.
(Not in a cynical way, mind you. More in a I'm smart and I can adapt, sort of way.)
Lydia absolutely makes the best of tough situations. It's not only admirable, but it's a smart skill to learn from.
The Lydia of this book has ambitions and life goals that are very different from the Lydia of the first book, but Carter makes it very clear how Lydia has grown and evolved to this point. There is never the sense that Lydia has lost her dreams, more that she has adjusted her expectations as time has progressed - something that is not only fitting given Lydia's involvement with the Montauk Project, but also a thoughtful idea for readers to mull over.
I highly recommend this book for fans of the trilogy (obviously), but also for fans who are looking to dip their toe into science fiction. Carter does a fantastic job of delving readers into a science fiction world, without overwhelming them with ideas and facts.
Also, on a personal note: I read So Close to You the day it was released, and have read every book in the trilogy the same way. I've loved seeing how Rachel Carter's writing has evolved over time, and it's abundantly clear in Find Me Where the Water Ends that Rachel is definitely someone who will remain a strong voice in the YA and literary world. *Tips hat to Rachel*
About the author:
I'm a young adult writer and my debut novel, So Close to You, is the start of a three book series with HarperTeen.
Also, it's about time travel. Which I love. Along with vampires, werewolves, epic Russian historical romances, and movies starring Ryan Gosling.
Please, please recommend books to me, especially YA and romance (the more obscure the better!). I'm always looking for new stories to fall in love with.