The fierce new YA novel from Ally Condie, author of the bestselling Matched trilogy
“A compelling, serpentine journey into the heart of grief, the way it can threaten to destroy, and what it looks like to survive.” —Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
“With its wonderful subversion of gender tropes and achingly real characters, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe takes readers on an epic journey to unearth life’s true treasures. Ally Condie has knocked it out of the park.” —Renée Ahdieh, bestselling author of Smoke in the Sun and The Wrath & the Dawn
Who do you become when you have nothing left to lose?
There is something Poe Blythe, the seventeen-year-old captain of the Outpost’s last mining ship, wants far more than the gold they tear from the Serpentine River.
Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even—and especially—when you think all is lost.
Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched trilogy, returns with an intricately crafted and emotionally gripping story of one young woman’s journey to move beyond the grief and anger that control her and find the inner strength to chart her own course.
About the Author
Ally Condie is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched trilogy and co-author of the Darkdeep middle grade series. She is also the author of the novel Summerlost, an Edgar Award Finalist. A former English teacher, Ally lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Ally has an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is the founder and director of the nonprofit WriteOut Foundation.
Read an Excerpt
Call tells me he sees a star and that makes me laugh.
“I do.” His voice is serious, his mouth against my ear.
I tip my head up. He’s right. It hangs low on the horizon. “That makes six,” I say.
“Seven,” he says. “That was a star we saw the first night on the river.”
“It wasn’t.” We’ve been arguing about this for weeks, ever since we left the Outpost behind and boarded the dredge to go upriver.
He laughs softly before he starts kissing me again.
Up on the deck, it’s easier to hear past the sounds made by our hungry metal ship. But it’s still impossible to completely ignore the constant throb and grate of the dredge as it moves along the river in search of gold, taking in rocks and stones, grinding them out. It tears up the rivers and leaves refuse and silt behind, ruins valleys, adds a smear of smoke to the sky.
“All of this, because the Admiral has a taste for gold,” I say.
“I have a taste for you,” Call tells me. I laugh because it’s such a stupid thing to say, even though it’s true, and I feel him smile.
“It makes no sense,” I say. “What good is all this gold?” We all know that the Admiral wants to help the Outpost thrive. He thinks that getting more gold can help us do that, but I’m not entirely sure why. We’ve mined enough to last us for a while, and there’s not really anyone to trade with anymore. We need so many other things. Cleaner air, more water, better medicine, ways to rehabilitate the land. All gold does is gild the time until we die.
“Who cares?” Call says. “If the Admiral didn’t want it, we’d never get to be out here.”
Call says things like this, but I’ve seen the expression on his face as he looks back at the devastation we leave behind. Churned-up riverbed, life choked to death so we can raise the gold.
Even though it shivers me to think of the ruin we’re causing, I may as well count the stars while I can. Already, in two weeks out on the river, I’ve seen more than most people back at the Outpost will in a lifetime.
“It was a good idea to come here,” Call whispers. “Admit it.”
“A good idea,” I say, teasing. “A good idea for us to spend our days in the belly of a noisy old ship loud enough to make us deaf. A good idea to spend our nights up here standing guard and ruining our eyes looking for things in the dark.”
“A very good idea,” he says.
Call had overheard some of the machinists in the scrap yard where we work talking about the dredge voyages. “It’s not an ideal posting,” the machinists told Call. “It’s dangerous and you have to leave the Outpost.” To Call, those sounded like promises instead of drawbacks.
“It’s the only way you’re going to see the world, Poe,” he said to me. “The only way you’re going to shake the dust of the Outpost from your feet.”
And we both knew that signing on to the dredge was a way for us to be together, without settling down and having babies and working all day every day in the same places, doing the same things.
And then there’s the biggest secret, the best dream of all.
We’re going to escape.
At the turnaround point, we’re going to leave. Run. Be free.
I have imagined it all. Blue lakes. Forest smell. The sound of something else alive in the woods, that isn’t human and doesn’t care that we are. We might not last long in the wilderness, but who knows. There’s a chance we could survive.
I would rather be torn apart by something than wait for nothing. And it doesn’t do any good to worry about what might happen later.
Instead, I think about now. I like now. A kiss on the top of the dredge under a smeary star sky with Call’s hands touching me.
“Should we invite any of the crew to come with us when we go?” Call asks.
We’ve had this discussion before, too.
“No,” I say. “Just us.”
Call sighs in my ear, metal aches and scrapes against stone, the trammel inside the ship turns the rocks and sifts out the gold, water sluices against rock and metal.
And then the bell from the mining deck.
I swear because I know what it means. They need help with the dredge’s main motor, the one that powers all the systems on the ship.
“Go on,” Call says. “Then you can come back up here.”
It’s sliding past dusk and straight into night.
“Be careful while I’m gone,” I say. “Watch out for the raiders.”
“I do a better job watching when you’re not here,” he says, and even in the dim light I can see the twist of his smile.
“That’s true,” I say. “I won’t come up again.” I’m not joking. Perhaps we’ve been too giddy with freedom, with being outside.
“Poe,” Call says. “It’s all right. We haven’t seen a single raider on this river.”
Maybe they’re dying off. Everyone knew it would happen eventually.
The Outpost is the only place you can last. The only place with dependable medicine and food and the protection of the Admiral and his militia. You give up some of your freedom for it, but most feel it’s an easy trade.
Call touches my hand in the dark as I leave.• • •
“There,” Naomi says, right as the mining equipment kicks back in, a constant low growl and grind that becomes part of you, like a heartbeat. Powered by solar conduits and battery storage, the main motor runs everything on the dredge through power take-off systems. The mining system is the loudest. It’s cobbled together from the dredge’s original system because we didn’t have the raw materials to replace it. The mining buckets move their belt, the trammel that sorts the gold from the rocks rolls, everything clanks and spins and grinds. Sweat trickles down Naomi’s tanned face. She wipes her hands on a rag and nods to Nik and me. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Nik says. We have to yell to be heard over the sound of the ship. Often we just read one another’s lips. “Sorry we got you down here, kid,” he says to me. In the lights below deck his face looks ghoulish but friendly.
“Any stars on the top deck?” Naomi asks.
“We saw one already tonight,” I say. “You should come up.”
Nik laughs. “You don’t mean that. You and Call want to have the deck all to yourselves.”
I roll my eyes at him even though he’s right. But Naomi and Nik both follow me up the stairs, the pull of fresh air strong after having been down on the mining deck. As we climb, the smell of night breezes and even, maybe, of pine forests somewhere nearby, floats down to us. I breathe in. It’s all worth it.
“Call,” I holler, as I come up on the deck, but he’s not where I left him. I see several shapes moving in the dim lights that rim the base of the deck. Who else is up here? Some of the crew? “Hey,” I say, stepping out onto the deck and then Naomi grabs my arm, hard, stopping me.
The shapes advance, evolve. As they come closer they turn from shadows into people whose faces I don’t recognize.
“We want the gold,” one of them says. “Tell us where it is. Now.”
My mind races. My eyes hunt.
Where is Call?
He didn’t have time to sound the alarm. Did he have time to hide?
“Tell us where it is,” another raider says, “or we’ll kill all of you and take it anyway.”
I look at Naomi and Nik. Their hands are up.
“You can’t kill all of us,” I say. “You need us alive. You don’t know how to run the ship.”
“You two, take us below,” the raider says to Naomi and Nik. “Show us where the gold is or we’ll shoot you.” He gestures in my direction. “Keep her up here.”
The raiders train their guns on me. My mind wants me to stay alive. My heart is sick with worry about Call. But he’s fast. He’s good. He’s probably hiding somewhere, waiting for his turn. Waiting for the instant he can pick them all off.
A moment passes.
And then I hear a terrible sound: the ship’s motor shutting down. They’re stopping us.
sidle toward the edge of the deck. Are more raiders waiting down there in the water? Did Call escape? Is he standing in the river, silent, hoping I’ll look over the edge? Waiting to catch me if I jump?
If he is, we could still get away. We could leave and not look back.
“Go ahead,” says the raider guarding me. “Take a look.”
I glance over the side. Spots of light on the water—raiders in boats, holding torches. There are at least three dozen of them down there in addition to the ones already on the ship.
How are there so many? They were supposed to be dying out.
Only twenty-three people live on the dredge. We can’t handle an armed group this size. And we’re too far up the river to call for reinforcements from the Outpost.
They’ve timed this perfectly.
Where is Call?
I’m frantic to find him.
The raiders herd the other members of the crew up the stairs and out onto the deck. I see Naomi, Nik. The cook, the first mate. The captain. The cartographer. The other machinists and the miners. None of our crew is armed. The raiders must have taken our weapons.
Call is not the only one missing. I don’t see the second mate, either.
And then, last up the stairs, two more raiders, each carrying someone. Good, I think, we injured some, but then they throw the people down on the deck of the dredge and I see one’s the second mate and the other is turned over, facedown, and neither of them moves.
I do. Across the deck I stumble, crashing to my knees next to the facedown man. I put my hand on a dark place on his back and it comes away bloody. Naomi makes a sound like a cry. They might shoot me in the back too but I have to know. I have to know what I already know.
I turn him over. And there he is, his face lit by the cool glow of the deck lights and the fire of the raiders’ torches. His eyes are open, alone.
I put my fingers to his lips. His skin already feels cold to me.
“Get up,” says a raider.
Call was shot in the back. He didn’t have a chance to sound the alarm. He was shot in the back and he was alone. What do his eyes say? Nothing. They say nothing. He’s nothing. He’s not here anymore.
Am I still here?
Can you be this hollow and not blow away on the wind?
I glance over my shoulder at the other crew members. My friends. Naomi and the captain and all the rest of them, and I think, I wish you were dead instead of him. You and you and you. Everyone else on this ship. All of you. I’d trade all of you for one of him and it wouldn’t pain me one bit.
Someone else steps into my line of vision. A raider. I hear the creak of his boots as he crouches down, but I don’t lift my gaze from Call’s face. His eyes.
“Do you know who we are?” The man’s voice is rough as rock, or gold. Not the polished shiny gold that’s been refined and purified. The heavier, dirt-burnished kind that we drag up from the river bottom.
“Raiders,” I say.
“Drifters,” he says.
I couldn’t care less what they call themselves. I take Call’s rough hand in mine.
My face is wet.
“We’re letting you go,” the man says. He doesn’t raise his voice, but it carries well, and the ship is so silent. “We left food for you on the shore. It’s enough to get you back to the Outpost if you walk fast and don’t eat much.” He leans close, so close I can feel his breath on my cheek and see the glitter of his eyes in the torchlight. “Tell your Admiral that we’re done with you taking from us. Tell him this is the last time we leave anyone alive.”
I reach into Call’s shirt pocket. I look at the buttons, the fabric, instead of at his dead eyes. One of the raider guards grabs my shoulder to haul me back, but not before I’ve taken out the folding ruler that Call always kept with him.
“What’s that?” the raider asks.
I don’t answer. “Help me,” I say to Nik. “Help me bring him with us.” Even though Call’s gone, I won’t leave his body with the raiders.
“Leave it,” says the rough-voiced raider. “Get on out of here.”
Fury, hot-white and loud as a motor, sounds through me. “Naomi,” I say. “Will you help me?”
She doesn’t move. Her face is sad and sorry. She’s afraid. They’re all afraid. I’m not. The worst has already happened.
As they drag me away, I twist around and see that the raiders are dragging Call, too. His head lolls back. He carries none of his own weight.
He’s heavy, and yet he’s not here at all.
Out on the shore, the dredge is an enormous deep shape against the night sky, and then it’s the sun, exploding.
“They’ve blown it up.” The captain’s voice shakes.
Heat washes over us. A few singed shards of metal come down into the water and glint-glance off the rocks we tore up earlier.
The wind shifts, and I see a whole spread of stars beyond the miry, polluted air. They vanish again behind the smoke from the burning ship.
Call is dead.
The raiders made Call nothing. Call who was everything.
I make them a promise, as their smoke and fire blot out the stars.
I will make you nothing too.
TWO YEARS LATER
“We talk about you.”
“I know,” I say to the Admiral. He tells me this as we sit up in a room in the scrap yard’s wooden office building, waiting for the rest of his advisers to arrive. The Admiral’s Quorum—a group of four, three men and one woman—advise and assist him with running the Outpost. I’ve heard snatches of what the Quorum says behind my back, the stories they tell. Some good, some bad. Some true, some false.
They say I live in the Admiral’s pocket.
That I’m actually afraid of the rivers.
They whisper about how I was a machinist when I first went on the dredge two years ago, and then came home with a weaponist’s mind and thirst for blood.
Two days after Call died, while our crew was making the long trek back to the Outpost, I had my first “revelation.” That’s what the Admiral calls it. He tells the Quorum, “God tells her something in her sleep, and then she draws the designs for it when she wakes up.”
My first one was about an armor for the dredge that kills any raiders who try to board. The other revelations have been about how to perfect it.
There are two problems with the Admiral’s revelation theory. First, I don’t believe in God, so he can’t talk to me. Second, I don’t think I actually sleep deep enough to dream anymore.
The Admiral and I watch the workers crawling over the dredge in the yard below. The ship came off the river yesterday, and it’s been hauled inland to the scrap yard for repairs.
It’s the hot-orange, simmering-sunset time of day, bearable only because of the knowledge that there are just a few hours left until the cool of night. The crew must be sweating as they repair the armor on the dredge. I know from working on the scrap yard with Call how it feels to have your clothes wet and dry and wet again over the hours of the day; your hands smudged black with dirt and oil; skin tight across your nose from the sun; eyes scalded and dry from looking closely at shining metal, fitted gears.
That’s as much as I’ll let myself remember.
There’s a flurry of movement in the yard as the workers change positions. The dredge bristles with variations on front-and side-facing gears. Armor. When the ship is moving, its exterior crawls like an animal covered in parasites. The gears are strong enough to snap a bone like a twig, a hunk of iron like a tree branch.
For decades, the two dredges the Outpost owned were nothing but great metal hulks from a long-past time. They sat out at the edge of the city, along with all the other remnants and machinery too large to bother moving. When this Admiral took power, he began to repair things, to try and figure out a way to make the Outpost thrive instead of just survive. He brought some of the old relics to the machinists’ scrap yard for cleaning and repair, including the dredges. The raiders burned one the night Call died. Now there’s a single ship left to run the rivers for gold.
“Ah,” says the Admiral. “Welcome.” The others have arrived. General Dale, Bishop Weaver, General Foster, Sister Haring. They shake hands with the Admiral and nod to me.
My position at these meetings is always strange. I’m not part of the Quorum. I only attend meetings concerning the dredge. And the citizens of the Outpost consider me a peculiarity. Not a person. When we pass in the street, they smile and keep their distance. Which makes sense. I’m aligned with the people in power, and it’s best not to disturb them. That’s common knowledge in the Outpost. Everyone’s got their work to keep them busy, everyone’s got to scrape to keep alive. We mind our own business. That’s what’s kept the Outpost viable all these years, on our own, without another major city or settlement within hundreds of miles.
And I also understand why the Quorum hasn’t taken me under their collective wing. I’m not officially a member of their group. I’m much younger than they are. And the Quorum may not have any qualms about the people I kill, but no one wants to be close to a murderer.
There’s something off about her. I’ve heard it whispered. Not just lately. All my life.
“Thank you for meeting us here,” says the Admiral.
“It’s our pleasure,” says Sister Haring. Her neat blond hair is pulled up in a bun. She’s very beautiful. I don’t like her at all. I don’t like any of them, but I like her the least because she smiles at me the most.
“Please,” says the Admiral. “Sit.” The wooden table and chairs in the room are scarred with use. Stray stubs of pencil and bits of paper have been left behind from other meetings. This is how the Admiral likes it. I don’t know where the Quorum usually meets, but whenever we gather here to discuss the dredge, the Admiral wants the room left as it is from when the people who actually work on the yard use it. He likes the workaday, part-of-it-all feeling it gives him.
Bishop Weaver takes his seat on the right hand of the Admiral. When I’m in meetings with the Admiral, he likes me to sit on his left.
The Devil’s hand, people used to call it.
I wonder who sits on his left when I’m not here.
General Dale’s eyes linger on me in his usual calculating way. Sister Haring smiles politely. I don’t care what they think of or about me. My job is to design the armor for the dredge and keep both working. Not to talk to the Quorum, not to bother about what it is they do.
“I have good news to report from the most recent voyage.” The Admiral leans forward, rests his elbows on the table. He’s tall and broad-shouldered, with a square-cut sandy beard and piercing blue eyes. His skin is always a little pink, like he’s been out in the sun working hard. His lips are chapped, the hair on his strong arms bleached by the sun. Years ago, when the time came to choose a new Admiral, the Outpost couldn’t resist him. He has big ideas, and he looks like a man of the people. As always, he wears a blue work shirt, brown trousers, scuffed black work boots, a silk tie loosely secured around his collar like an afterthought. A casual gesture to his status.
I’m dressed exactly like him, except for the tie. And I wear my hair long, in braids.
I wonder what Call would say if he could see me now. None of this is what he would have wanted. Except he’d want me alive, and this is the way I’ve found to do it.
“The Gilded Lily performed perfectly,” says the Admiral.
I hate the name they’ve given the ship. I don’t think of it as she, or he for that matter. It’s the dredge. It’s a piece of metal.
It’s not alive.
“We took in twice the gold we expected,” the Admiral says. His eyes light up the way they do whenever he talks about gold, and he cannot completely control the emotion in his voice.
It’s the same thing that happens when he needs to address the people, but this is raw. Unintended. Caught in glimpses instead of put on for a sermon.
“Ah,” says Sister Haring, satisfied. Bishop Weaver raises his eyebrows, and General Dale smiles.
General Foster actually presses his palms together in pleasure. “Wonderful,” he says.
“It was by far our most successful voyage yet.” The Admiral waits a beat before speaking again. “Even though no raiders were killed.”
The members of the Quorum each flicker with movement at this. An intake of breath, a folding of arms, a recrossing of legs. I feel eyes shift to me.
“No raiders died,” says the Admiral, “because our machine’s reputation is such that not a single one of them tried to board.”
General Dale folds his arms. “That’s interesting.” Our eyes meet. There is a challenge in his. As if he thinks my armor isn’t enough threat to keep the raiders away.
As if he’s forgotten all the rust-colored stains on the armor when the dredge has returned from other voyages. All the ways my prickling, moving gears have ground the raiders into pulp when they tried to board.
“We saw raiders along the banks, watching and following,” says the Admiral, “but none dared attempt an attack.”
We saw. That’s what he says. But the truth is that none of us in this room go on the voyages. The Admiral stays behind in his house on the bluff and I sit in my apartment down in the city. He thinks about gold and government and I think about killing and Call.
“It’s time,” the Admiral says. “We’re ready to cull the Serpentine.”
“Good,” says Sister Haring, at the same time that Bishop Weaver says, “At last,” his intonation like a prayer.
The Serpentine River. The biggest river in the area; the one with the most potential for gold. We’ve waited because it’s going to be the most difficult to dredge. It’s long and deep, and goes far into raider territory.
A small smile curls my lips, and I bow my head to hide my pleasure at the Admiral’s decision. I hope the raiders find the courage to try and board the ship. So we can cut them down.
“To ensure that everything goes smoothly, Lieutenant Blythe will be on this voyage.”
My head jerks up in surprise. He wants me to go?
That’s not what we agreed, I want to say to him. I designed the armor for the ship in exchange for my life and for the lives of the others on the dredge on my first voyage. My only voyage.
We lost the ship, we lost the gold. We knew the Admiral might order our deaths, but my revelation about the armor saved us. It gave me leverage. Something to bargain with.
I look at the Admiral, at his clear eyes and the very straight line of his mouth. I work for him. I live under his protection. And I never, ever underestimate the danger of my situation.
“This is the most important voyage yet,” the Admiral says. “I don’t want anything to go wrong. I want the killing mechanisms to work.”
“They’ll work,” I say.
“And you’ll be there in case they don’t,” he says, a cool finality in his tone.
If the Admiral tells you to do something, you do it.
Or you die.
You would think that after Call died, I wouldn’t care
anymore about dying. But I do. I saw him. I saw his eyes looking up and seeing nothing. I saw how gone he was. I knew he was nowhere else in the world or beyond. He was over.
The Quorum watches.
Why does the Admiral want me to go on this voyage, and not any of the others? Has he decided that he’s tiring of me? Is this a trap of some sort?
That might be the case. It might not. Either way, I may as well make the most of the situation. “That’s right,” I say to the advisers. I hold each of their gazes in turn. Sister Haring is not smiling now. And then I meet the Admiral’s eyes. “I’m going on the ship as Captain.”
I have to give the Admiral credit. He doesn’t even blink. All I see is a slight tightening of his lips that shows I’ve surprised him.
And that he’s angry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe ended up quite differently from what I expected and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Poe was irritating at times with her hatred and mistrust of everyone though she kinda had a reason when she lost her love, Call right at the beginning. She got better though and started to relate to people instead of wallowing inward and then the story moved along easier for me. I wish there had been more backstory about why the world was what it was, what had happened to make it so ruined. That was never quite explained, though there might be another book so maybe it could go into more detail then. The book finished up all right and could end there, but I would like more.
This story grabs you with the rich detail, strong characters, and striking setting. From the first page I felt that I was in league with Poe Blythe, even though sometimes I didn't agree with her decisions or opinions. This story throws you right in to a world where a colony is left struggling to survive with the added struggle of a group of outsiders attacking them for their gold. The author does a great job of taking you into the inner workings of the ship used to dredge for gold and the armor that protects it. She creates a sense of place without dragging you down with overly descriptive detail. I loved the storyline, the characters, and the pacing of this book. This is a great read, I definitely recommend it!
I was kind of nervous to return to reading an Ally Condie book, after the disappointment I felt with the Matched Trilogy. However, everything from the cover to the description appealed to me, so I decided to give this book a chance. The book has a great concept, but no real development or character growth. The whole time, Poe was so paranoid and suspicious of everyone, which made me paranoid and suspicious of everyone, so I did not really care about any of the characters. Also, I was kind of confused when Poe all of a sudden just switched sides to be with the drifters? It seems like there was almost no internal acknowledgment of that at all, which there should have been. And the romance with Brig- I kind of predicted it, because I always assume there’s going to be a romance, but the way it was executed felt way too quick and forced. Definitely something that needs work. The book left off on kind of a cliffhanger, so hopefully there will be a next book and maybe in that next book, Ally will be able to expand on the world that was too briefly introduced to us, as well as add some more growth to the characters, who have the potential to be interesting characters.
Honestly, when I first started this, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had really enjoyed the author's first series, or at least the first book in that series, Matched, but I hasn't read anything else by her since then. I got the chance to read a snippet of this on Bookish First, and it was intriguing enough that I wanted to read more and find out what this world was really all about. The book kept my interest as I tried to figure out what exactly was going on in this world. And honestly, a lot of that was kind of kept vague, so not sure if it would really be a dystopian, as I'm not sure it is an Earth like world really. The further I got into it, it got better and better, so many twists and turns and who was really an ally and who was really an enemy, and how would it all end up. Definitely a unique story with a lot to keep your interest as you read. I'll put it in my school library for students who enjoy this type of story, or her other books, although as I mentioned, this isn't quite the same thing as that first series.
I read The Matched series years ago and remembered not a lot about them, just that I didn't love them as much as everyone said I would. So I was a little dubious about reading another one of Condie's books. But I picked it up and started to read, and I really got into it. Firstly, it takes place on a ship, which is awesome! I love sea adventures. And Poe was a great character. She was pretty relatable (as relatable as a sea captain can be) and a strong leader, as well as flawed and real. The book was an adventure, which I don't always love, but this one was well done. Lots of great action and suspense. The only thing I didn't like was some of the violence, but besides that, it was really great. All in all, a solid read.
This is the story of an extremely talented and strong woman. Poe has lost her one true love to the raiders under a start night while mining gold. She goes into a defensive pose and designed armor to protect her crew so no one would every have to go through what she did. The sides are set until the unthinkable happens. Now Poe my struggle with the perception of what the actual reality is and how that will change her world. I truly enjoyed the characters and the way that Poe was constantly questioning what was morally right and what was perceived to be right. This dystopian tale is hard to put down and I quickly go so engrossed in the story that hours had past and I was still thinking just one more chapter then I will put it down for the night.
This book was....not what I wanted. I haven't had the best experiences with Condie's writing before, but this book sounded so interesting and not like anything that I had read before in YA, so I was reayd to give it a try. When Rendz and I first started talking about the buddy read, I really only remember two buzzwords - revenge and gold - and honestly that was enough for me. The buzzwords were pretty true. This book is about gold, revenge, and a ship. I think it also tries to take on colonization a bit, but I feel like everything kind of got lost besides the revenge and the ship and gold. Seriously, everything revolved around it, and not much was particular interesting. The story focuses on the last voyage that the people from The Outpost (a confusingly vague settlement that I still don't fully understand - but that's the entirety of the world). It does focus on Poe's emotional journey dealing with the death of her love, Cal, who was murdered by a group that lives outside The Outpost that constantly fights with Poe's peeps over who owns the gold. Reasons I Will Not Be Signing Up for the Last or Basically Any Voyage of Poe Blythe: - Poe. I think Rendz said this best when we were reading: Poe was being Poe. And that's honestly all the ways I can describe her. She is definitely a special girl. She somehow has some vision that magically creates this super confusing armor (that took Rendz and I a really long time to create a picture but think porcupine ship and we good), captains her own ship/crew literally the SECOND time she even gets on a boat, and somehow knows exactly what to do? Her characterization was solely on her desire for revenge and love for her ship, which I thought was interesting, but it got real old real fast once there was literally nothing else. - The other characters. Rendz and I both agreed that the rest of the characters didn't have much personality. They were just very much there. Last year, I read Seafire by Natalie C. Parker that featured an all female crew on a pirate ship. There was a lot of them, but they were each dynamic, colorful, and distinct. This crew? I couldn't pick any of them out of a lineup, because they were stick figures in the background - eh, I think they actually might have been more hazy than that. They just existed and were names on the pages. There was also a lot of potential for a character that is the villain, and like IDK the villains were pointless. They just faded into the background, and then the big reveal/motivation at the end CAME OUT OF LITERAL NOWHERE. And it made no sense???? Speaking of which, that ending was so vauge, and just...it was weird and confusing and IDK. - The pacing. The first half was pretty slow, and it took a long way to warm up. Rendz and I both agreed that we enjoyed just how fast paced the second half went especially in regards to the shorter chapters and speed up of the action. It still lacked the tension and drama needed for it, but at least it went by so fast. So actually, this was an item that I did like - except I had to go through the slow part first. The writing was pretty straight to the point and easy to read, so that was good. And there were a few interesting things, but that was about it. The one crown that I'm giving it isn't a "this was all sorts of terrible" or "i hated it with a fiery passion" but instead a one crown rating due to the strong disconnection I felt for it and how bored I was. Rendz ended up with just under a 3 star rating.
First, I have to say I absolutely loved the Matched trilogy and Atlantia by Ally Condie. I've been a fan of her work for a long time. So, that being said, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is my least favorite of all. It's not a bad story. The Mark Twain steampunk vibe is truly unique for a dystopian story. I have never read anything like this world. The main character is indeed cold and calculating with a specific goal in mind. I understand her motivation for wanting to exact revenge on those who so justly deserve it. Poe is a sympathetic character who is also very determined and possibly slightly obsessed with revenge to the point where she is blinded by it. My main problem is that my attention kept drifting off. Something was lacking for me ,and I'm not exactly sure what. Still, it's a clever and original story for readers to enjoy.
When Poe is made captain of the Lily, a river ship dredging for gold, Poe thinks it is just because she designed the armor and knew the ship from bow to stern. The Admiral chose Poe for a reason, she just needs to figure out why. As the voyage begins, Poe is taken back to her last time on the water and how badly that turned out. As the dredge makes it way down the river, collecting the gold the Admiral so badly wants, the crew has to fight raiders, jumping ship, getting back on, and while thinking of the wrath of the Admiral when he finds out that they have lost the ship. A lot to take on for a 17-year-old. Adventure, romance, tragedy, and happiness make this book a great read.
Don't miss the latest book by an amazingly talented author! Ally Condie is a gifted writer. I've read all of her books, and if she wrote technical manuals I'd probably read them. So, naturally, I picked up this book expecting to love it. It arrived in the mail when I was already in the middle of several books. I was just going to read a few pages, maybe a chapter, to see what it was like. Long story short - I had finished it within 72 hours. All my other books went on hold. I just had to know what would happen to Poe Blythe, Brig, Tam, Naomi and Lily. Poe Blythe is out for revenge. Two years ago, Call, her best friend and love of her life, was murdered by raiders who attacked their dredging ship. Now her only mission is to protect the Outpost's last remaining dredge ship, and to inflict punishment on any raiders who would try to attack it. She is surprised when she is assigned as captain of the ship for its final voyage. At seventeen, she is inexperienced in leadership positions, but tackles the job with characteristic determination. Most of her crew is older than she is and she must prove herself to them. Their journey is fraught with danger from the raiders lurking on the shore, searching for a weakness in their ship's defenses. When the raiders successfully are able to infiltrate the ship, Poe and three others escape. From shore, they follow along, hoping for an opportunity to take the dredge ship back. In the meantime, Poe must come to terms with her own loss and grief, and open herself to the opportunity to feel, to care, perhaps even to love again. Brig, her second in command, who reminds her of Call, might be the one to provide this chance. To put it mildly, Ally Condie did NOT disappoint me. Another winner from one of my favorite YA authors.
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is haunting and beautiful and I love Ally Condie's writing. Poe is such a strong, devastating character. Warning: this one is a tear-jerker, and worth every twist of my heart. Highly recommend for dystopian fans, kick-ass female characters, and moral ambiguity.
Special thank you to Penguin Random House for gifting me this ARC in exchange for my honest review. I was sent this novel as a result of winning a BookishFirst giveaway. “I was the ship’s captain. Now I’m its ghost.” “I thought I will never be able to love anyone again. I thought I will kill the people who did this to you. And I thought I will do whatever it takes to stay alive.” Although YA adventure and fantasy novels are not my favorite, my students have always been crazy over Ally Condie and her Matched series, so I was eager to get a chance to read this one before it hits shelves this month. I will say that even though this one is dubbed as a “YA Fantasy,” I feel like it’s pretty light on the fantasy and heavier on adventure. In this novel, we follow the journey of Poe Blythe, seventeen-year-old captain of a gold-mining ship traveling the dangerous Serpentine River, as she avenges the death of her boyfriend Call. Call was killed two years prior by river raiders, also known as “drifters”. Fueled by grief and intense anger, Poe vows to seek revenge at all costs. Poe is a sharp character -- smart, cautious, and leery of everyone and everything. She’s easy to love and root for, as readers will be eager to see her broken heart healed. Fans of Hunger Games and Divergent series will enjoy this one. I did only rate this one as 3 stars, because I felt like the action got very stale towards the end. I found myself skimming the final pages, which is always such a bummer.
Poe Blythe has spent most of her life at the Outpost, working in the shipyard and then going on a voyage to mine gold from the river. One night everything changes for her when raiders take the ship and kill her best friend and lover named Call. Poe vows revenge, so she develops special, deadly armor for the ship that will keep the raiders at bay for the next voyage. As the captain of the next big voyage, Poe is forced to make some difficult decisions, and eventually she learns that things are not as they seem. She will learn who to trust, and soon she must find courage to take matters in her own hands in order to survive and do what is right. I enjoyed this book very much. I found it to be unique even though familiar story elements were used. I sympathized with a few of the characters, and I also found myself disliking a few. The writing was descriptive and realistic, and I thought the book had a good message overall. I didn't agree with some of the views presented, but the story kept me interested and it kept me on the edge of my seat towards the end. I hope the author is writing a sequel because there were quite a few loose ends left untied. I would definitely read a sequel, and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure and strong characters. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookish First program. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
This book surprised me in so many awesome ways. I wasn't expecting to love Poe as much as I did with her flawed motivation for her goals in life. This author pulled me into this dystopian world she created and I felt as if I lived there too. Not only did this author create a setting that jumped off the pages, but she breathed life into characters that all had flaws, struggled, laughed, cried, angered. The pacing was spot on to keep me reading and never wanting to stop. The author threw plot twists that delighted and surprised me and kept me wondering what was real, who could be trusted, and who would betray. This is an emotionally gripping story with external and internal conflicts and made me think about what motivates me to do the things I do. Poe's journey is both physical and mental and concluded with an appropriate ending.
Philosophical dystopian by the author of the Matched series! I received The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie as a Bookish First Winner! Poe hides out on a ship with Call, the young man that she loves. They’ve made plans to run away together and they feel like the world is at their fingertips until the ship is attacked by raiders. In that moment, everything is taken away from Poe. The story jumps to two years later when Poe becomes Captain of the ship or dredge that she’s spent the past two years designing protective armor for. She’s all alone in the world and trusts no one. The dredge is built to mine the river and gather gold. Poe designed the armor to protect the ship and shipmates from raiders, the same group of people that attacked the ship she was on two years before. The character range is limited to the people that Poe is in the most contact with. The story is philosophical in its own way as Poe ponders her experiences and the people she truly cares for. Poe grows and matures as the story unfolds, while other things remain mysterious. 4 stars for this dystopian adventure.
Dystopian but with Modern-Day Political Themes: Even if dystopian novels are not your first choice, you still need to to consider reading THE LAST VOYAGE OF POE BLYTHE since there are some underlying themes that beg comparison to eminent domain attitudes, false promises from political parties, untrustworthy politicians who care only about fattening their own wallets, and even some environmental concerns. The young ( age 17) yet-strong female protagonist (Poe) is not the sole female among a cast of males, and it is nice to have equally talented female companions such as Eira the cartographer. Interestingly, no one can be sure who is trustworthy or who is a spy as Poe seeks to avenge the early-in-the-story-death of a very special person in her life. The inability to determine the same is part of what keeps one turning the pages. There are meaningful reminders about modern life sprinkled throughout the desperate and daring adventures of the characters, but nothing is heavy handed. Tam, the cook, has a knife made of horn from a long since extinct animal, and the Admiral, a self-centered political leader, cares only about glory (something that did not die with dictators in World War II). It is nice to have a dystopian adventure that can be thought provoking while also providing entertainment. The human will to survive, to adapt to changing conditions, and the ability to not only get along with people who seem to be different but to learn from their experiences provide plenty of talking points for book clubs with members of all ages. I rated this book a 4 because I personally prefer a different basis for the plot and am a little tired of dystopian themes.
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a standout for its antiheroine. Poe, who has never had much to begin with, lets rage and anger steer her actions after raiders killed the boy she loved. But what she thinks is a straightforward path to vengeance turns into a twisting trail of self-examination and assessing everything she thought was true. Poe is a pull-no-punches type of girl, which readers will appreciate. She's blunt and emotionally detached, and not in the "brooding but charming" way other books portray similarly strong, haunted characters. I've seen it labeled as fantasy, but I don't know that I would call it that. It's presumably set in the future, but one that has regressed to more basic technologies after attempts to expand resulted in the withdrawal of central support when it became clear the Outpost was too difficult to maintain. There aren't any fantastical elements, just the notion that the old is gone, and this is society trying to rebuild itself.
"The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe" is a fascinating YA fantasy/dystopian that is even better than Condie's Matched series. The book begins two years back when Poe is on a dredge voyage, working on a ship that mines the rivers for gold. She is madly in love with Call, the only person she has, and together, they count the stars and the time until they can escape. Both grew up in the orphanages of the Outpost, where work is hard and death is well-known. Raiders, people who live outside the Outpost, frequently attack the dredges to take the gold. Call is on watch when they attack and he is killed but Poe and the others are spared. When Poe gets back to the Outpost, she has decided that she will kill all the raiders and has invented weapons to do so. Now, two years later, her weapons have killed more raiders than they ever would have imagined. Poe lives alone, in solitude, and she is happy this way. The Admiral, who rules the Outpost ruthlessly, tolerates her because of her inventions. He has now decided that she must go on the dredge for a big mission to mine a lot of gold and protect her inventions. She leverages this into being captain so that she can continue to live alone. As Captain Blythe embarks on this mission, traitors will rise, friendships will be questioned, and everything Poe thinks she knows will be called into question. Poe is an easy character to like and understand- she is perfect as the lead of this book. We gather bits and pieces about this world through revelations here and there. While it would be interesting to know the history leading to the present, the world-building was adequate, and we get a good feel for what Poe's world looks like. With prose that is lyrical at times, we follow this fascinating journey of discovery and question the value of revenge and human life. I was completely caught up in this fascinating book, and I found it difficult to put down. There are also tidbits of romance that I am curious to see how they will develop in the future (I am assuming there will be more in this series). This book was rather dark at times with ample death and destruction. With interesting insights into politics, how politicians make decisions, and the thirst for revenge, this book is absolutely engaging. I highly recommend for fans of YA dystopians. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through bookish first. All opinions are my own.
I really ended up enjoying this book. I went into this book without a whole lot of expectations. I think that I might have read one of the author's earlier books years ago but don't remember a whole lot about it. The premise sounded really interesting so I was excited to give the story a try and was surprised by how quickly I was hooked by this adventurous tale. I thought that this was just a whole lot of fun. Most of this book takes place on a ship used to dredge the river for gold. The book opens on Poe's first voyage where things take a horrible turn and the man she loves is killed. Poe is determined to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen again and designs armor that will cover the ships for all future voyages. Poe is put in command of the newest voyage which is the first time she has been out since tragedy struck. It was really interesting to be in Poe's head as she worked to establish her position of leadership while being unsure if all of the members of her crew are trustworthy. When things go wrong, she becomes even more suspicious of the others working on the ship. I loved the fact that this book had plenty of action. There are some fairly violent scenes that had me holding my breath and worrying about the characters. Poe had a hard time trying to figure out who could be trusted and which crew members had their own agenda. I liked that Poe became a true leader because of her actions and that she was willing to take stand even if it came with a lot of risks. Poe was a great character and I thought that the key secondary characters were very well done. I would recommend this book to others. I found this book to be very well done with an interesting world, great characters, and an adventurous story. While I thought that this book stood perfectly fine on its own, I do think that there could be a possibility of future books featuring this world or group of characters in the future. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. I received a review copy of this book from Dutton Books for Young Readers via Bookish First.