Book Review: The Fire Sermon

The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig4-star

Title:  The Fire Sermon

Author:  Francesca Haig

Rating: 3.5/5

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the concept of The Fire Sermon, the book certainly showed a lot of promise in the first chapters.  Towards the middle, I felt that the plot dragged a bit.  Thankfully, it resurges at the end to finish on a strong note.

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

A TWIST ON THE USUAL APOCALYPTIC WASTELAND

There was always one boy and one girl, with one from each pair perfect. Not just well-formed but strong, robust.  But soon the fatal symmetry became evident’ the price to be paid for each perfect baby was its twin.  They came in many different forms: limbs missing, or atrophied, or occasionally multiplied.  Absent eyes, extra eyes, or eyes sealed shut.  These were the Omegas, the shadow counterparts to the Alphas.

The young adult genre is littered with farfetched post apocalyptic set-ups: ranging wildly from worlds where love are outlawed, to planets where all your thoughts are vocalised in an endless stream of noise (an aside:  I LOVE THE CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY).  Hence, when I found The Fire Sermon is based on the concept of twins and their dichotomy: with one being mutated, the other flawless – I took it all in stride.

The Fire Sermon can be an upsetting read, as the world it’s set in is definitely dictated by ableism.  As parents on Omega children are lawfully required to abandon them, sequestering them into isolated, starving colonies – the book allows its plot to explore the marginalisation of the disabled.  More than this, the Omega are infertile, derogatorily called dead-end and forced to believe that they have no future as a people.  I love The Fire Sermon for being able to examine some of their struggles.

However, I wished that our main character did not come from a position of relative privilege.  Though Cass is an Omega, she was able to hide this for most of her childhood as she had no physical deformities.  Instead, her curse is being a Seer – with the ability to sense danger, directions, and glimpsing at the occasional prophetic dream.  She’s stuck in-between, the Omega envies her while the Alphas fear her.  She’s in a fairly awful situation, but the Omegas are correct to say that she has it easier than the rest of them, to be frank.Read More »

Review: Under The Empyrean Sky

3star

Title:  Under the Empyrean Sky

Author:  Chuck Wendig

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 3/5

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley + Skyscape in exchange for an honest review.

I had such a hard time writing this review, as this book fell victim to my dystopia burnout (I thought Red Rising cured me, oops).  I really wanted to like this book because i) I like reading the author’s blog and ii) these covers are freaking amazing (yes, judge away!).  Alas, I didn’t love or hate it – I felt plain meh.

empyreansky-settings

The setting was my favourite part of this book. Set in a futuristic world where mutant corn have taken over the Earth and is the only crop the people of the Heartland can sow.  Above them lives the Empyrean in their floatilla, who has access to luxuries and rigorously control the planting of crops and the distribution of wealth.  It reminded me a bit of Interstellar, one of my favourite movies last year, where the Earth could only sustain okra and corn.

As with all dystopia, we get to see elements of the oppressor and the oppressed. Heartlanders live in poverty under the Empyrean sky (points for using the title!).  Not only are they starving and malnourished, many of their kinds also suffer from an advanced form of cancer, hinted as a side effect from consumption of genetically modified corn.  There’s also the Blight, a creepy mutation that reminds me a little of The Wood’s effect in Uprooted.Read More »