I honestly have no idea how to talk about this book without spoilers, but here goes. This final book has the author Rick Yancey disgusted (we also get a foreward) due to him finding out the truth about Will Henry and the doctor. And at times we are told as readers to turn back, but if you don't, you have no one but yourself to blame.
We now find three Will Henry's in this book. We find Will Henry at the age of 16 still in service to the doctor, Will Henry I think at least 40 years old (due to the years we hear have passed since he last saw the doctor) and the aging Will Henry who is angry at what he remembers and what he wishes he could forget. I listened to this via Audible, and then switched over the kindle copy and finished this up around 3 am sometime. My brain ended up twisting and turning every which way at the reveals we are given. Frankly, I am not shocked at them, you had to know this end was coming due to everything we have seen Will Henry endure.
We are given a look into a 16 year old Will Henry we are not going to like much. A darker one who shows sad similarities with Jack Kearns. At times he even repeats thing that Kearns says and lashes out at people in his mind who are faking their humanity. I adored Will Henry in book #1, felt for him in book #2, and was really apprehensive about him in book #3 and ultimately fell to pity for him in this final book based on what I think occurred.
The monster in this one is not really important to the plot for once. Instead we see how this monster ends up being the catalyst that wipes things out for the monstrumologists as a science in the end. You get to see that the actions that have taken us on this long path end up influencing things. And we also get to see how those who refuse to acknowledge the things they did (Will Henry) are doomed to never get any real rest because I think Will Henry in his deepest of hearts knows that he can't blame the doctor as much as he would like.
We have reappearances by Lilian Bates, her mother, and her uncle once again. We also get some looks into new characters. But honestly, the main focus is on Will and even the doctor. Because the doctor is now afraid that he has not done enough to keep Will Henry safe from a fate who didn't want him to have to endure.
The shifting timelines get a bit confusing at times. It made it easier figuring out the timelines when I was listening because the older Will Henry (40 year old) sounded darker and nastier. We also get to see an older doctor who will break your heart. You also get to see the doctor come full circle in this one and sadly seemed to be doing exactly what his father was near his end.
Lilian and Will Henry's relationship was tragic. I think Will is under the assumption that Lilian can save him from himself, but instead she starts to realize that something is not quite right with Will, and him blaming the doctor is the easy way out of what he has become inside.
The ending was shocking to me. You read between the lines and you guess what happens. But you also have to recall what happens to the elderly Will Henry in this book. He is ultimately found dead in a ditch. When you finish this series, you may not be as pained about that as you were after reading book #1.
Now time for some spoilers.
I think that this was the only way this book could have ended. We have Will Henry ultimately becoming a human made monster just like Jack Kearns was. He tells himself he would not do the things he did if not for the doctor, but you start to see a part of him relishes killing and not having to own it at all.
Based on how things were left with Lilian I was shocked that they ended up marrying some day, especially since we know Will's infection could kill her. When we see what happens to a woman that Will was with I wondered at how Lilian and Will ended up married til her death.
And then the final reveal. The person known as Will Henry, is not Will Henry. Instead he stole the name of the man that Lilian married. He and our Will Henry share a middle name, but they are not one in the same. Since book #3 mentions a fire and how Will Henry disappeared my next shock was that our Will Henry was behind both. At this time knowing what we know about how he ended up killing/murdering the doctor through fire, I assumed that he did similar to Lilian as well.
Our Will Henry trying to blame the doctor for what he became is so tragic. Because though the doctor was cold at times, he held onto his humanity and tried to keep everyone safe. He was terrible at making impossible choices, but that was because Will would take the dark path and lie to him about it.
Our Will Henry being in a ditch in the end makes me think that he finally hit his final descent as well.