There are those series I adore and sing their praises, and then there are those I stick with and finish out of a strong, morbid curiosity. After liking Eve well enough, but getting extremely irritated at Once, I had a feeling Rise would either sit very well with me, or make me want to throw something. As it turns out, my reaction was more of the latter variety, but hey, I finished the trilogy! At least there's the relief that it's over, and I suppose I DID like a few moments along the way.
My biggest problem is the main character, Eve. She grew a bit as a character in Once, but in Rise, every bit of that growth came to a screeching halt, and if anything, she regressed. Instead of becoming a potential leader, Eve mopes and whines through most of Rise. Instead of caring more about the world around her and others suffering, she becomes cold. Instead of DOING SOMETHING she dithers around and makes TERRIBLE decisions. Even as the stakes are getting higher, it's like she's literally TRYING to be a stupid as possible. Normally I would feel bad for saying that but my GOSH. By the end of Rise, I think I preferred emo Eve to uncaring Eve, or one-bad-choice-after-another Eve. Every time I'd think "it can't get any worse," Eve would prove me wrong.
My other problem is one I can't really put my finger on, but these books are missing that SPARK, that SOMETHING that pulls you in and makes you care about the characters. I didn't care one iota about Eve, Clara, Beatrice, or anyone, really. The only character I WANTED to see because I actually really really liked her - Arden - wasn't really in Rise. She got a cameo at the end, which pissed me off, because it felt like Carey went "oh, crap, I forgot about Arden. Let me shove her in here real quick." It's damn near impossible to really get into a book when you don't care about the characters, and that's no less true here. I didn't care about the characters, so the danger never felt real, and I was never afraid for anyone.
Finally? Rise is just a freaking mess. One hot mess from beginning to end, filled with contrived "plot twists", a slew of new characters who either annoyed me or were never even developed, and various holes that I'm pretty sure I could drive a tank through. In fact, I wished while reading Rise that a tank would drive over *me* so I could stop reading. But, I'd said I would stick this out and see how it all ended, so I did. And the end? I'm solidly "meh" on it. Something went really wrong in Rise; either this should have been a four book series with the final book filling in some of the gaps and expanding on things, or Rise should have been much, much better than it was so it wasn't so darned rushed and nonsense-y. Maybe some of both.
Final Thoughts: I can't even. I would consider reading something else of Anna Carey's, because I do enjoy her writing style, and that's about the only thing that gave Rise any saving grace.