Author: Sara Baysinger
Publisher: StarFinder Press
Publishing Date: October 6, 2016
I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest and objective review.
“Reality, I think, will be the death of us all.”
I loved so much about this book, even with the few bumps I hit along the way. The cover art initially made no sense to me, so it didn’t draw me into the story – but once I started reading I developed a new appreciation for it, as the MC’s name is Ember, like the embers in a fire. I was really terrified I wouldn’t love this story but it exceeded my expectations!
Ember Carter is a 16-year-old farmer’s daughter with a passion for her family and the Community Garden. As Career Day is fast approaching Ember knows that her fate is in the hands of the government. Careers are chosen for the Proletariat, and for the last two years the only careers that have been given out are positions to be a Defender of the Peace. Pro fighting a war that no one knows anything about.
As her path collides with Forest, a mysterious stranger full of knowledge of Frankfort’s secrets, Ember finds herself thankful for the safe haven of the Community Garden. When her best friend, Leaf, makes a rash decision she find’s her life is dumped upside down. Ripped from the Community Garden and suspected of being a rebel she is tried for Murder. Facing certain death; will anyone save her?
Her time in prison is far from simple, though. Ember meets Rain, an indifferent Patrician, who is focused on reaching his goals regardless of what it takes. Incarceration has it’s way of unlocking secrets, though. Ember learns that she’s lived a life a lies, a secret that gives her the power to change the fate of Ky.
Pros and Cons:
One of my absolute favorite things about this Dystopian novel is that it has diversity! Ember is African American, and she’s described to have hazelnut colored skin, with mud brown hair, which totally goes against the “dark hair, light eyes, pale-skin” characters that are usually in the Dystopian genre. (FINALLY!) There is also a biracial relationship that develops later on in the plot. *heavy breathing* Biracial couples are so stunningly beautiful!
One thing that really irked me through this novel was some of the unique language that Sara tried to create. For example the use of the word “shoddy” as a substitute for where we would usually see an expletive or even the word “bloody.” There was also the phrase “son of a jackal,” versus “son of a gun.” I think this was Sara’s way of avoiding curse words, which I fully support, but it just didn’t sit well with me personally.
I also found that some of her characters repeated themselves throughout the book, and it wasn’t in a “quoting myself” kind of way. I think it would have been stronger if her characters had had just changed the phraseology a bit when they repeated themselves, versus a verbatim quote. Aside from these few hiccups, the book was really well-written! The characters are developed beautifully and highly relatable.
Our protagonist is Ember Carter. Ember hates rocking the boat, and would much rather try to be an optimist. She is very green to a lot of social experiences, so she’s a bit naive, and way too trusting, but that’s what makes me love her. I think one of her strongest features as a character is her ability to follow through on her word. Even when everything in her makes her doubt herself she still makes the tough decisions. I also loved that no matter what was happening, or what she felt, she was devoted to getting back to her family. Sure – it was completely selfish, but when the world is caving in who wouldn’t want to stick their head in the sand and just wish it away?
Then we have Forest, a mystery man who claims to have the best of intentions – but it is SO hard to tell at times. He’s beautiful, and powerful – but in the same essence Forest is weak and makes a lot of dumb and naive decisions. He, too, is similar to Ember in this way. Both constantly trying to believe the best. Hopefully as the plot thickens in the next two books they will grow and realize that just isn’t always possible.
Lastly we have Rain, who drinks like a fish, and would just assume watch the world burn as he would watch it thrive. His indifference to nearly everything is beyond obnoxious. Sure – there’s a heart in his chest somewhere, I’m just not exactly sure where. It’s as if his calling in life is to grate the nerves of everyone around him – and god forbid he pass up the chance to tease someone or hit them where it hurts. I’m interested to see the further development of his character.
I gave this YA Dystopain Fantasy novel four stars because of the thought-provoking sentiments it had, (which are also kind of unusual in Dystopians as they tend to be more storm-the-castle based), and because the plot made me hungry. It was easy to get lost in this book and I’m struggling to not destroy my February TBR so I can read the next book in this series NOW. Though there is no coarse language, or sexual scenes in this book, but there are deaths, and physical assaults that take place in the story. I’m very excited for the rest of this series, and am so thankful to Sara for sending me an e-ARC.
“Optimism is a good trait, Ember. But if you always choose to see the glass as half full, you’ll never have the incentive to change anything.”
“I’m glad Dad raised me to think for myself and not conform to following society.”
“Nothing strikes emotion more than seeing a strong person cry.”
“There is no my people and your people. We’re all one nation, one tribe. One people.”
“Peter Pan doesn’t exactly welcome anyone to Neverland who’s older than twelve, so we adults have to suck it up, plaster a smile on our faces, and pretend like the grave doesn’t completely terrify us.”
“Rain is… unpredictable.”
“Frankfort is a black tiger. Beautiful. Dangerous.”
“Did you know Ky used to be known as Kentucky? Little known fact.”
“Rain, the uncultured, arrogant prick, reads.”