So, if I really have to give a synopsis of the book, it's this: The Barrow's and the Samos's are, in a way, aligned. Ptolemus, the murderer of Mare's brother, Shade, is working together with the Barrows but the hatred is still there. The Barrows are avoiding him as best they can, and he has the decency to not push it. The war council against the reigning Silvers, such as Maven and his bride, Iris Cygnet. However, Tiberias Calore, aka Cal has said he doesn't believe in equal rights for Reds, something Mare disagrees with on every conceivable level. So Mare no longer calls him by Cal. But right now, the war is ever-raging and it's time for the final book.
I honestly loved the first two instalments of the Red Queen series, Red Queen and Glass Sword. I sped through both of them and gave them perfect scores, and a big contribution was how both had introductions that never made me want to detach myself from what was happening and they ended on cliffhangers that made me chew my nails until I had my own copy to open. The third instalment, King's Cage, had the beginning all nicked up but I was very satisfied with the battle it had at the end, and then: The final few paragraphs didn't display as effective a cliffhanger. The mixture ended up still giving King's Cage a spot in last year's Top 10, but I didn't feel like the last book was in the "I-Need" category. That put War Storm at a disadvantage, when I was fine with everything that happened already. Not to mention the first 150 or so pages do something the series hasn't done before: noticeably drag on. I think I know why. Each of these Red Queen books has a similar but unique flavour to its plotline: the first was Mare as the undercover freak, the second was Mare as a fugitive, then the third was as a prisoner, and this one is her as a war lieutenant. Or soldier. And in wars, people die in big final battles. And this is the last we're going to see of these characters so we need to get some sayings in. But it tried to be heartfelt and at times gallant but with the intimidation of how long this book is, it didn't bring me hope it would end up better. It actually did, but for those first pages, I wasn't enjoying myself.
And let's get something else bad out of the way. And this paragraph is major spoilers, so if you want, skip down to the next one. The blurb of this book ends with: "Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power...for all will be tested, but not all will survive." Well...yes, not all survive, but by the end I didn't feel like there was enough bite to the actually few primary deaths in this book. In all circumstances, it's not even as tragic of a dystopian story as the first two and I saw numerous ways the book could've tugged at us more.
But against all odds it won me back over. It was almost a step by step thing. One thing is a disadvantage of King's Cage that's kind of eliminated, and that's having a bundle of fancy names to characters we know nothing about and don't care for at all. When you're reading about what they're saying, it's not uplifting. In War Storm, there's less of that here and we focus on a smaller main cast of characters. I also never caught on to Evangeline being in love with Elane, or Davidson having a husband. I enjoyed that touch in the book too, without it feeling like Aveyard put that in there to score more points.
There's also the case for the viewpoints. In King's Cage, they gave us perspectives other than Mare for the first time and I was surprised by that. In this case, it does in the end benefit more than damage the story, having so many perspectives now that it really does seem like Mare and Maven have been cast aside, which they end up discussing. And despite the slow start, a lot does happen without making anything the main point of attack. This family called the Bracken's who are being held hostage are pulled. There's a break-in to get more weapons. There are negotiations on how to handle arranged marriages and capturing and losing cities. And I was so worried it was going to do the same thing as Dreams of Gods and Monsters and have a boring 100-paged conclusion, but it really doesn't.
I also enjoyed how I no longer roll my eyes at Maven. Yes, he's mentally unstable, especially with the acts we can't forget about in the first two books, but he grew up, like Azula from Avatar, to be this way, under the pressure of his parent. And his contempt for his brother and the barest thought of getting Mare back under his belt is the sole thing that drives him. Sibling rivalry can get violent. I should know. During the last few chapters with Maven in them, I felt his feel of simply defeat in the world, misery, and contempt, and we get a few chapters with him in the spotlight and they're very powerful. During the last one, he's running around looking for weapons and ways to escape the city, and I felt the people right behind his back and the feeling he wasn't going to make it. If every perspective was like this, I'd have given this book a humungous-ly bigger grade.
I also enjoyed when I was in Evangeline's perspective. I can sort of relate to her. I never had to grow up in the slums like Mare; I've grown up pretty lucky, like her, and yet what she in reality wants is misunderstood and she doesn't seem to mind equal rights for Reds and Silvers, unlike her tyrannical parents, who loathe only being able to eat plain chicken and vegetables when most of the cooks pack up their stuff. They really are airheads and teach you what not to become.
Basically, I'd suggest if possible skipping the first quarter of War Storm. Even without that, it might be a mouthful at 650 pages, and while in my opinion the weakest in the trilogy, does it stab and bleed the quartet dry? Nope.