Title: The Fire Sermon (#1)
Author: Francesca Haig
Pages: 384 (according to goodreads, my edition has 357 pages)
What is it about?
Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.
With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.
Overall rating: ★★★★
Story line and world building: ★★★★
At first I was slightly afraid that this book might be disappointing, because there are so many dystopic YA books out there and very few are actually good. The story went off to a good start, you are immediately involved in the story and the background is interesting. However it was a quite obvious build-up, because the few following chapters are all about Cass’s tragic backstory. Sometimes I really felt like few things were happening and the pace went down in the middle part of the book. But beside that it was really enjoyable to read and at the end even slightly addictive. However the ending did not leave much to look forward to, there is no cliffhanger and the storyline is pretty much closed up.
The world the story set in was for some reasons for me a bit illogical because there are no scientific reasons behind it. The idea of Alphas and Omegas is really interesting but I would have loved to see some logic behind it. The suppression of the Omegas even made me mad in the beginning of the book because I could not grasp why the Alphas would ban their twins, lock them up even, just to procure their own lives.
The main character is Cass (Cassandra) and the main side character is Kip. Since I read this book in Dutch, I found that Kip is such an annoying name. You might not know, this but Kip means chicken in Dutch and it has been bothering me during the entire book. WHY? I just did not understand why they did not change his name in the Dutch translation. It’s just so weird. The first time they said his name I was like:
Anyway. I loved that Cass is actually older than most of the main character in dystopic YA fiction. It was such a relief after all those 15 year olds trying to save the world. Cass’s is still for me a bit of a weird but admirable character. She has a connection with her twin Zach and believes that neither Alfas nor Omegas are bad and that there should be a way to work together. I just can’t grasp that after all the Alphas did to her she wasn’t as mad as I was because I certainly would have done everything to them (especially to Zach).
I thought Kip did not really have much of a character. He was mainly there to support Cass. After reading the entire book I still don’t know much about him (but maybe that is because he doesn’t know much about himself..).
Writing style: ★★★★
As I said, the book started off great, fast paced and interesting, during the rest of the first half I found that it went a little downwards. The next half of the book however was again great. Some plot twists were unpredictable and I definitely not saw the ending coming.
In the world of dystopic YA books, this is definitely one of the better ones. The story is good, the main character strong and the world it is set in is definitely different from many other dystopic worlds but does have the same sort of feeling to it. But maybe that’s just because it is dystopic. I could not really relate to the main character but I still think that she has an interesting point of view. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who loves YA dystopic/fantasy.
“A history written in ashes, in bones. Before the blast, they say there’d been sermons about fire, about the end of the world. The fire itself gave the last sermon; after that there were no more.”