Fire Lines was one of the heftier samplers that I got at YALC. At nine chapters, it was enough to give me a real flavour of the book, so I knew I wanted to read the full thing once it was released.
I actually signed up to be on the advance blogger list for Fire Lines, but didn’t manage to read and review the book until after it was published, so it’s available now!
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.
When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.
But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?
The funny thing about this book is that the sampler I received marks a very definite change in tone. The first nine chapters, which I read as the sampler, are all about Émi in the restrictive, partitioned city she lives in, as she suffers the cruelty of the system and fights to be who she really is. But the sampler cut off at the point where she crosses the wall to escape. So the rest of the book, which I read this week, has a very definite change in tone. It was a little strange – like I had read two books by dividing so clearly between the two different types of experience that Émi had.
The first half, the sampler part, was definitely the better part of the book. I felt like it became a little disjointed in the latter parts. But that said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. Perhaps I’m just more disposed towards enjoying stories about restrictive cities and strict divisions between colour classes (I do really love the Wind on Fire trilogy, and Émi’s being banished to the Red Quarter is massively reminiscent of the demotion of Kestrel and Bo’s move down from Orange in the first parts of The Wind Singer), so I felt like the first part of this book was the better part.
But that said, the book as a whole was very enjoyable. There were complex new systems introduced, several really interesting characters, and betrayals left, right, and centre. Nothing was as it seemed, and nobody was as predictable as you might think – it was certainly far from character archetypes as everyone bucked expectations and behaved like complex, flawed humans (and non-humans) (and elephants!)
Fire Lines was the first in a trilogy, so I’m very much looking forward to the second and third installments, to see how Émi’s story continues. I feel like there’s a huge amount of potential here. We’ve only seen two of the four cities – there are two more to go, so I’m looking forward to exploring more of the world of the Fire Stone!