Book three of the Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy
By John Hornor Jacobs
Available now from Carolrhoda LAB (Lerner)
Read my reviews of The Twelve-Fingered Boy and The Shibboleth
The Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy comes to a conclusion with THE CONFORMITY. This is one where it is best to read all of the books in order, so it might be best to stop reading now if you haven't read the first two books.
Shreve has survived Mr. Quincrux. But as terrible as Quincrux was, he had a point. The Conformity is coming, and Shreve and the other extranatural teens must be prepared to fight it. It particularly wants Shreve, for his powerful telepathy and mind control. Shreve is mostly over his stealing-other-people's-memories-to-feel-good thing, but people still don't rest easy around him. (Which is, admittedly, a smart move.)
THE CONFORMITY really gets back to the horror elements of the first book in the trilogy. It takes the physical form of people bonded together into a giant, something impossible to fight without harming the innocents that are being sucked into its being. The stakes are also very high. For the first time, Shreve shares narrating duties, both because the characters have to split up and Shreve isn't always in state to observe and report what's happening.
In the end, I think the Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy is a little shaggy, yet a lot of fun. The plot takes a lot of detours, many of them unnecessary rather than helping to build the story up. (In this book, several chapters are devoted to one group of characters finding help that gets casually rendered useless shortly after it is acquired. It's more like reading about the characters doing busy work than actually getting things done.) Shreve's voice is as compelling as always, hardened by his time in juvie but still vulnerable due to his youth and the extreme danger he's in.
I think THE CONFORMITY finishes the story aptly. It might leave any new readers confused, but it works well for the series as a whole. THE CONFORMITY ends with a rather bold choice, but a fitting one. I feel like it clearly worked with the themes of the trilogy rather than being thrown in for a cheap shock.