Exploration of Grief and Revenge | The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 3/26/19
Pages: 328
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
Poe Blythe is the young captain of her failing city's last mining ship, travelling the Serpentine River and dredging up gold. But it isn't gold on her mind. Two years ago, river raiders robbed Poe of everything. And she wants revenge. As she navigates the treacherous waters and realises there's a traitor among her crew, Poe is forced to confront the dangerous truth about why she has been sent on this journey - and reckon with who she has become.
Poe and Call, orphans of the Outpost, have always wondered what lies beyond the walls of their confining city. When an opportunity to join the crew of a mining ship comes along, they both take it. Together, Poe and Call create a plan to jump ship to race toward freedom. Yet, when the ship is attacked and Call is struck dead, Poe is left to seethe in anger at the Raiders who attacked them. In this glorious exploration of grief and revenge, Poe embarks on her last journey that starts off in anger but ends in understanding. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a fast paced, riveting tale that many readers can relate to.

  • The lead-in was so gripping. I don’t know how Condie did it but within the first five pages, she captures the reader’s attention and makes them fall in love with Call as much as Poe is in love with him. The writing was tremendously easy to read and fast paced. 
  • I was a bit hesitant to start this. I read Matched when it first came out and didn't like it at all. It was a bit slow and too romance-centric. However, this past autumn, Ally Condie wrote The Darkdeep with Brendan Reichs which I thought was imaginative and action packed. So, when I heard about The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe, following a female captain of a mining ship, seeking revenge, I knew I had to check it out. When I first read the synopsis, I thought this may be about pirates. Unfortunately, it is not. The ship they sail mines the gold at the bottom of the river. And there are some scenes of Raiders overtaking the ship but none of the Raiders call the river their home. However, there are similar elements to that of pirates that I would recommend The Last Voyage to readers who like pirates and sea-faring adventures. 
  • There are some dystopian undertones in this. Instead of building a world, Condie placed us in a world that had ended and been reborn. People live in this one concentrated area called the Outpost. They exchange freedom for life under the supervision of the Admiral. Citizens of the Outpost believe that the outside world is not safe. Poe used to strive to break free from the Admiral’s hold which would have turned this into a dystopian novel for sure. Instead, she decides to seek revenge for the death of a loved one and to do that, she needs the leverage the Admiral provides. 
  • There were many paths the plot could take. It's a revenge narrative. Yet, at one point, it was the mystery of a potential traitor. At another time, there was a survival plot. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe connects it all but it does seem as if there was a bit too much going on. There didn't seem to be one primary focus. 
pirates of the caribbean ship GIF
  • Condie created an entire cast of amazing characters. Each were so well written. With Poe’s narrative, who doesn’t make small talk and knows very little about her crew, readers are only given the bare facts about each character, at first. Condie lets readers interact with the characters through dialogue and action which immerses readers further into the story. It makes the cast of characters much more dimensional that way. 
  • Poe is complicated, in depth, and relatable. Readers' hearts will surely go out to her. Her grief is shrouded by her desire for unrelenting revenge against the Raiders. She makes many mistakes along the way which makes her relatable; yet, it may also make her unlikable. She’s a strict captain. She doesn’t want to make friends. She doesn’t like to make conversation. Poe is blinded by one path: of ridding the world of Raiders. She intends to see her mission through without fail. Poe is such an excellent character.
  • There was a slight romance—that I wouldn't even categorize as a romance—more like a mere desire. It is easy to decipher that Condie wanted there to be something between Poe and the other character, but there wasn’t. It would have been interesting to see how it turned out but Poe’s desire was underdeveloped and mostly imaginary.
  • The ending leaves it open to questions, even room for a possible sequel. Condie made the right choice in ending it that way. It left readers wondering and wanting more. 
This is a plot we’ve seen many times before. However, Ally Condie explores grief and revenge expertly, creating a character as real as you and me. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a well-crafted story with fantastic characters, superb action sequences, and dystopian vibes.

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  1. I have been intrigued by this book ever since I saw a few people writing about it. I love that it sounds like it isn't just a revenge story but has some survival aspects among others. I am down for that. I too wasn't a fan of Matched, but I always give an author a second chance before I give up on them. Thanks for the review!