I feel like I’ve been reading AL Jackson’s Bleeding Stars series forever, yet it’s nowhere near enough time to spend with the boys of Sunder. Other than Austin’s story, there was no other boy I was more eager to get to spend time with than Zee; he had been such an enigma throughout the entire series I knew his story would be destructive in the best way.
While Zee had always been an important and vital part of the band throughout the Bleeding Stars books, any other knowledge of him was severely limited. Beyond knowing he had taken his brother’s place in the band and that his loyalty was as fierce as it comes, Zee was an unknown. His secrets formed a cloud of protection around him which never let anyone, bandmates included, close enough to penetrate. Getting a glimpse behind the shroud he’d so carefully constructed made my heart break for the boy. Living with the weight and pain of the past had no doubt crushed Zee to the point he couldn’t see there was more for him than the secrets and lies he so faithfully carried alone.
When all those secrets and his carefully constructed life was threatened by one of the single most wonderful and terrifying things he’d experienced, Zee knew his life wouldn’t, couldn’t be the same. Watching Zee grapple with the devastation of the secrets of his past being laid bare and having his last tie to his brother potentially being torn away should he make a single misstep, was painful. He deserved so much more than the life he’d been living, more than keeping the most important part of his life a secret from those people who mattered most to him.
The unraveling of the past and present and each of the secrets that Zee held was masterful. I loved how AL Jackson was able to bring her story full circle and weave those final moments of Mark’s life and what happened between them into a bright new beginning for Zee. It was beautiful to see how Alexis played such a vital role in Zee rediscovering his own life, rather than continuing to live the half-life he’d been living in order to keep everyone else happy. Alexis’s entrance in to Zee’s life, while spine-chilling, was one of the most impactful things a person could experience. I’m very glad AL Jackson wrote it the way she did, because I’m not sure that a less intense experience would have been enough to knock Zee’s world off balance enough for him to see he needed more than he was allowing himself.
While I am sad to be saying goodbye to this world and the boys of Sunder, I am glad AL Jackson sent them off the way she did. I loved getting to check in with all of them one final time and see they’d found all the love and happiness they needed and deserved. These boys and their families will always hold a special place in my heart and I am thankful to Ms. Jackson for bringing their stories to life and sharing their souls with the world.