Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Burning Sky

Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): YA High Fantasy 
Pages: 464
*1st book in series*
(Sorry this post was so late! I meant to have it up on Thursday, but Blogger was acting a little funky, and it wouldn’t let me post until now >.<.)

Spoilers are hidden! Highlight the page to see them:) 

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

The action, the characters, the world! Oh my! ;)

The action:
Overall the action in this book is very engaging. There are a few slow bits, but they further the plot, develop the character(s), and/or strengthen the chemistry.  I like how this book solves a part of the problem, but not everything.  There are few things worse than a novel dragging out a plot device or solving things too quickly that there’s not enough stuff for the next book.  This book balances that out perfectly, and it builds anticipation for the next book to boot.

The characters:
The thing that makes this book so great are its characters. The chemistry between the characters is absolutely AMAZING.

 From reading the back cover, I expected a Mary Sue, but that totally isn’t the case.  Yea, Iolanthe is the One.  Okay, she has special magical powers. And alright, she might have a tendency to have just the right skill at just the right time (i.e. she fits in well as a boy because she used to observe these boys who always passed by her window).  So fine, she is a Mary Sue in some aspects. 


What sets her apart is her attitude and overall character (not just the nit-picky parts). She has all this great power and this supposedly great destiny, but she doesn’t want it.   All she wants is to rescue her mentor and go back to her old life.  She doesn’t want to be some great hero; even if the fate of the world rests on her hands, yea, she sort of cares, but she really doesn’t want anything to do with it.  After all, saving the world would almost guarantee her death.  And who wants to die? Even if it’s for the greater good, wouldn’t you hesitate?  She doesn’t blindly accept things just because it seems like the right thing or because she’s the One.  Iolanthe questions and struggles with things (and her internal conflict is very present throughout the novel), she doesn’t think sometimes before she acts, and, most of all, she’s just human.  She gets jealous, she can be a little selfish and petty (not soo much that we want to slap her, but in moderation), and she doesn’t always follow the rules.  That doesn’t sound like a Mary Sue to me.  

And Titus.  Oh, Titus, you little complicated prince, you.   He can, at first, come off as a little too perfect, but he sooo isn’t. Far from it.  On the outside, he’s Mr. Cool, but that image slowly breaks down as the book progresses. He messes up, he lies, he’s manipulative, he’s afraid of failure, and he won’t let anything get in the way of his destiny/fate.  Many of these characteristics do change as the novel goes on, and he is the character that grows the most from beginning to end, from a cold-hearted jerk whose burdened by life to someone who understands that hope is real, and in this aspect, we see exactly how perfect Iolanthe is for him (see below).  

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again: this author is a master at chemistry- particularly the chemistry between Iolanthe and Titus.  They are friends (frenemies?) foremost before anything else. Their relationship is so dynamic. They’ve both never truly had a friend where they could just be themselves and confide everything to.  They help each other grow tremendously, and they also bring out the true personalities of each other.  

Their chemistry can’t really be classified solely as a romance because it’s so much deeper and more complicated than that.  Their relationship is romantic, but not until much later does it actually become truly romantic.  (It doesn’t make any sense now, but it will when you read the book. ;) ) It’s actually really complicated- but in a good way.  It gives so much depth to their relationship (and you guys all know how much I love depth!).  It starts off with attraction (it is a bit of an insta-love, but it’s also not- mainly because of the resentment stage), then resentment and attraction, and then finally, a slow build up to the actual confession.   So in a nutshell, they like each other, and they hate each other, but eventually they learn to just really like each other.  (Confusing, right?)

The World:
I love it! The author did a great job of showing us the world rather than bombing us with information.  Even though there are a couple things that were vague, I’m pretty sure it will all be clarified in the next books.   For the first time in a long time, I was actually sucked into this magical world instead of just watching it from the side lines (which is NO FUN).   I especially loved all those Latin spells because I’m taking Latin right now, and some of the words the author used were very poetic.  

Any complaints?  It’s hard to really get into the book in the beginning.  It’s very cryptic, vague, and confusing, but as the book progresses, most (not all) things get clarified.  There are also some events that happen in the book that are way too convenient.  Like the book of prophecies.  The prophecies given to Titus by his mother kind of ruined some parts of the novel because it told us how they were going to react or if this character was going to die, etc.  It takes away the shock of some of the events.   I also have mixed feelings about that Crucible.  It’s very whimsical (I know, I know. A fairytale book where you can battle monsters and die? Well, when you say it like that….), but it also is way too convenient.  The Crucible is basically a walking Wikipedia (I say Wikipedia because it can be revised by people) about EVERYTHING.  But honestly, these are all minor complaints, and the chemistry between Iolanthe and Titus totally makes up for all complaints (and the fact that we’ll be getting a second book!).

Final thoughts:  A fun plot+ a great chemistry= VERY happy reader.

Thanks for reading!:)

Rating: 3 out of 5