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Review of The Fire Sermon

13 Feb 2015

Synopsis

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Nobody.

They were born together and they will die together.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they're free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they're not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Review

The Fire Sermon is a fantastic post apocalyptic / dystopian novel that is very literary in nature making it perfect for fans of authors of literary fantasy such as Brandon Sanderson. From the very start, the writing in The Fire Sermon is utterly fantastic. First lines are crucial in setting the tone of the book and "I always thought they would come for me at night" perfectly conveys the action and mystery that you can expect throughout.

Whilst having a lower class heroine who wants to change the status quo is by no means unique in dystopian and fantasy fiction, the other elements of this book make it a stand out in the currently over saturated market for these kinds of books. My favourite aspect has to be that everyone in the world has a twin and when one twin dies so does the other. This gave a really interesting twist to the story as it keeps everyone's anger and hatred simmering as they cannot just fight.

Cass is a great character. She is caring, strong and looks deeper at people than what is just on the surface. What I loved about her is that whilst she is a "strong female characters" she is also believable and relatable. Rather than having exceptional fighting skills she has to rely on intelligence and sheer determination and there are many facets to her personality including vulnerability.
I have seen this book called YA by various people. However, I don't really think it should be classed as YA - Partially but not wholly because the main characters are in their early 20's for the majority of the story - though the content holds nothing overly inappropriate for most teens.

There is a romantic subplot in this novel which is very nice (especially if you like a sprinkle of romance with your action like I do!) but it is in no way a main feature and doesn't take over from the central storyline. It has what seems to me from other books I have read to have a relatively standard amount of romance (and inferred potential sexual activities) for an adult fantasy novel.

I absolutely loved Kip. He is a little different to your traditional "hero" as quite frankly he can be a little bit of a wimp at times. His lack of memory makes or some interesting twists and he is fiercely loyal and protective of Cass. Kip's growth as a character and discovery of himself made for some of my favourite moments in the book and when the going gets tough he manages to rise to the occasion.

With equality and diversity in both society and novels currently a hot topic I think that The Fire Sermon is being released at the perfect time. One of the central elements in this book is the hatred that Alphas and Omegas feel for each other, mainly because they are different and constantly focus on that rather than their in fact more numerous similarities.

There are a few mysteries in the book, some of which I guessed but others I was completely oblivious about to the end which is always nice. Surprises should stay as surprises and I normally work out the twists and endings of books way too early for my liking. I was most certainly surprised by some elements throughout!

The ending to this book was... brave. Francesca Haig has taken a route that I doubt all readers will be happy with, but I liked as I thought it was true to both the characters and the world in which they live. After how things were left I cannot wait to see what is next for Cass and everyone else and what route their story will take.

*I received a copy of this book for review consideration, this has not affected my opinions or ratings in any way*

Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK

Laura

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