Read my reviews of the previous books in the Pretty Broken series:
The conflicting relationship between Iris and Cas has been the unaddressed through line between each of the previous books in this series. And now that we’ve covered the other members of Pretty Broken, it’s time to focus on the two who remain. There’s a lot of history there, however, so I agree with Gray’s decision to split their journey into two separate books. In this installment, we get plenty of backstory entwined with overlap of integral events that also occur in the previous novel.
Even though this book covers difficult subject matter, the backstory between Iris and Cas is important to set up the current state of affairs. I loved the information we got, even when I had a bit of trouble following the timeline. I decided not to quibble too much about it and instead embraced Iris’s self-proclaimed status as an “unreliable narrator.” What did ring true is the love that these men have for each other. But love doesn’t conquer all, especially when it starts as teenage infatuation and must survive the drama and lifestyle of world fame. Sometimes it just makes life more complicated and painful, and one thing I appreciated about this book is that Gray never writes like the relationship between Iris and Cas is inevitable. Even while my “outside” perspective knows that we’ll get the happily ever after at the end of the story, I was able to be fully invested in the book while reading because Gray crafts a truly dramatic story that doesn’t make the ending feel as certain in the moment.
Another reason to save this pair for last is that the band manager Alexander’s treatment of Iris is central to the conflict that has been building between him and the full band throughout this series. Finally, each member has caught up to the ways he was dividing them in order to exert control. The new reveals and new perspectives meant I was still engrossed in the story so that even the occasional “doubled” scene from Pretty Wreck never felt repetitive.
This novel is an excellent penultimate series story as it sets up the resolution of multiple storylines. It doesn’t significantly move forward the external story of the band by too much, but now we’re truly committed to all five members as characters. This is the perfect launch point for an epic finale, even though I know one more book won’t be enough for me to feel finished with this group of characters and a band that I wish created real music.