My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am devastated. Not about the characters, main plot, and side stories contained within the pages of How to Belong. I’m absolutely wrecked because Arden St. Ives’ tale is over. How does a reader recover from the conclusion of one of the most phenomenal series ever?
I don’t know that this reader can.
Hall has this magical storytelling way with words. Words that are crafted in such a way that the reader is completely absorbed into his world. And each character, no matter how big or small a part they play in the Arden St. Ives’ universe, is fleshed out so well. Every scene is set up so thoroughly, it’s hard not to imagine the reader would recognize the cemetery, or the dog biscuit factory, or the busy London streets should one find themselves in such location.
I want more, I crave more, of Ellery and Bellerose and George (Oh, George!)…everyone, really. I crave the connections the characters form with each other, the complex personalities of each, and the random silly and delightfully dated pop culture references. (Spice Girls, anyone?)
Ardy’s growth and maturity are well developed in How to Belong, compared to when we first meet him in How to Bang. It’s inevitable that he would grow up; his maturation is natural and fits the Ardy we’ve come to know and love. He’s come leaps and bounds from the carefree, party-going university student and is now more aware, more perceptive. He’s become the person Caspian needs.
Reading the last sentence of the last chapter was difficult in two ways: one, it meant the end of Arden and Caspian; and two, it felt…not quite satisfying in a way. The ending left me wanting… something else. It felt like the end of a day, when you know as you go to bed that you will wake up in the morning to start the next day. But there is no next day, only a blank page.
Despite my feeling of almost confusion…I guess…with the ending, I still give How to Belong five stars. Overall, this book was amazing, and the series is extraordinary. It’s one I will read and listen to (Joel Leslie is GOAT.) over and over, and never get tired of.