Review copy provided by the authors, who are personal friends. Of mine, I mean, although also one expects of each other. Although, hey, still friends three books into writing a series together, more power to them.
So yes: this is the third book of the Change series. It is not my recommended starting point. There is quite a lot of backstory here, but more importantly this is very much a character-driven story. There are very active plot elements–fire and fight and family feud and scheming and politics and travel–but the thing that ties together all the many point-of-view characters and their several concerns is coming-of-age, finding one’s place in the world, characterization stuff. And if you don’t have the background for that, it won’t have nearly the punch.
These books are diverse along numerous axes. They are about teenagers trying to figure out who they want to be in worlds that have complicated attitudes toward some aspects of their identities–and even in the places where the world is not restrictive, sometimes it’s still hard to figure out just because it’s hard, just because learning to human is hard even before you start throwing in mutant powers and post-apocalyptic Southern California landscapes. But at their core, these books are full of people who care about each other, and who are effective at doing it, too. Which is far too rare.