(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Title: Tell the Wind and Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Length: 368 pages
Publication: April 5th 2016 by Clarion Books
Note: The publisher sent me this e-book via Netgalley for free in exchange for my honest review.
Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.
Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?
‘Tell the Wind and Fire’ is written in first person limited past with Lucie Manette telling the story. Yet, even with it being told from a limited point of view, Lucie often comments on how she knows what the people around her are thinking, despite not being able to read their minds. Additionally, Lucie’s unique past plays a heavy role in how she views and interacts with the world around her.
Pacing: The pacing of this novel is off-balanced. The story inconsistently bounces into the past to explain the present, which acts as a pause in the story. The present-day action tries to make up for this in its attempt of being fast-paced but falls flat. Thus, the story drags more often than not.
World: The world is under-developed. The book uses big concepts and vague language to create a world that sounds fantastic, but in reality has no concrete descriptions. Due to this, it was impossible to get a sense of what the world, or even locations within the cities, actually look like. However, such is the paradox of a world built on light.
Writing Style: The writing style is a nuisance and difficult to stomach because it’s overdone to the point of being forced. Every description, every character, and every thought is given unnecessary importance. As a result, the book is filled with fluff and no actual content. In other words, the writing style is utilized to cover up the lack of plot and lack of believable characters.
Characters: The main character, teenager Lucie Manette, is annoying at best and lacking all personality at worst. She has no clear goals and bounces back and forth between ‘coward’ and ‘brave’. Yet, her being ‘brave’ is so overly drummed up and brought to attention (by the character herself), which comes off as forced and faked.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Every privilege in the world is offered to Lucie after she saves her father: education, safety, even a rich boyfriend, and after the horrors she endured in the Dark part of the city, Lucie doesn’t want her new life to change. But the problem with an unbalanced society is that change is inevitable. The only control she has over this change is what role she’ll play in it, if any.
Plot: The plot of this novel is more along the lines of protecting one’s home than any traditional plot, yet both sides of the war are ‘home’ for the main character, Lucie. Even so, Lucie isn’t the most active character in the book. Her actions do very little to turn the tides of the war. Rather, her overly knightly boyfriend, Ethan, gallivants off to the Dark city to save a man because Lucie is disappointed in Ethan for sending him there in the first place. And Ethan’s doppelganger, Carwyn, is the one who sacrifices himself in the end of the story so Lucie, her father, Ethan, and Lucie’s host-family in the Light city can live happily ever after.
Though, Lucie is not idle because of a lack of opportunities. In fact, she is given many opportunities to stand up for herself and the people she cares about against Ethan’s tyrannical uncle or even her own dark-magic-wielding aunt. Yet, she swallows her tongue. Lucie is so afraid of the consequences that could befall her that she doesn’t step up once. The worst part is that she states how wrong everything is. She knows the horrible things Ethan’s uncle is unleashing and that her aunt is going about her rebellion in the wrong way, but Lucie just rolls over and plays puppet, letting those around her use her to their own desires.
The only active thing Lucie does throughout the book is take the doppelganger collar off Carwyn so he can ‘have a good time’. While she knows it’s a bad idea, she does it anyway. What’s more is that she doesn’t tell anyone about it after he escapes, even the people who could help her and not get her into trouble because they have power and already know of Carwyn’s existence: aka Ethan or his uncle. Instead, Lucie doesn’t even look for Carwyn or attempt to right the wrong she’s committed. She just lets Carwyn run off with her boyfriend’s face, which he could do some serious damage with around the city if she so chose.
Yet what story wouldn’t be complete without the soulless, dark-magic, doppelganger sacrificing himself for people he barely knows? Because in reality Carwyn hardly knows Lucie and Lucie hardly knows Carwyn, but he feels to need to give up his life to save the little girl of Lucie’s host family all because she showed him an ounce of kindness (or stupidity) by taking off his collar and giving him freedom for a few days.
What it really comes down to is that the reasons for the characters’ actions don’t add up. After all, the reason Lucie is an idle character in the book is because she’s afraid. Afraid of what, though? Even when she lived in the dreary, oppressed Dark part of the city, she lacked for nothing. Her light-magic-wielding father had a good job, meaning while she didn’t have all the privileges of the Light part of the city, she wasn’t starving, and her dark-magic-wielding family took amazing care of her. They even taught her how to fight. Is she just afraid of losing them like she lost her mother? Because sitting around and not fighting the people oppressing her, is a good way to let those same people take away the people she cares about.
Whatever Lucie’s reasoning for playing puppet, it’s not the only reason this book was uninteresting. This book also lacks character-development because the only character that did change was Carwyn and his change didn’t feel real, plot-development mainly due to the fact that Lucie was idle most of the time(meaning the plot was going on in the background, which the reader doesn’t read about), world-development because Light isn’t tangible and offers very little in the way of imaginable descriptive details, and attempts to hide the flaws of each of these elements with a fluff-filled writing style. For that reason, I leave my rating of this novel, ‘Tell the Wind and Fire’, at one star.
Have you read ‘Tell The Wind and Fire’ by Sarah Rees Brennan? What did you think of it?