Sunday, December 28, 2014
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.
What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.
The Book Nerds love us some Josephine Angelini! She is super adorable and super sweet and we loved the Starcrossed series! So we were very excited to get our hands on Trial By Fire at BEA this year. (Especially Jacque, who had flight issues and literally walked into the hall and straight to this line.) We decided to wait to review it until around its publication date.
It's a very cool concept. Lily Proctor is a teenager in Salem, Massachusetts. She had a Very Bad Day and the next thing you know -- voila! She is in alternate universe. And the crazy thing is, a version of herself exists in this universe! In fact, it is she who pulled Lily here. And not only Lily -- her mother, sister, and best friend also exist in this alternate universe. Craziness!
But for some reason, I had a bit of a hard time getting through it. I think that while this alternate universe is a a really cool concept that I like, it also took a lot of exposition to set it up. I mean, there was action and things happened, but it really was a lot of Rowan just explaining things to Lily. And I understand why, because by the end I really did feel like I had a strong sense of the world -- like I was there. I am looking forward to how this plays out for Lily and Rowan. And even more so -- I am super curious to know more about Lillian. I think that's another thing I was missing. We learn at the beginning (and later as well) that she feels like she did what she had to do -- but why?! I really wanted to get into her head, and I really hope we get to do that in the next book.
I have to agree with Flo that the concept is great. Witches are the rulers of the cities in the new universe. They can convert heat into energy to power the cities, grow food, heal the sick, etc. Josephine did a remarkable job of incorporating the history of the Salem Witch Trials into this very unique story. As much as I wanted to love this book, it was a slow read for me.
A good story, in my opinion, is built around the relationships between the characters. For a large portion of this book there were trust issues, so the relationships were slow to develop. Also, Lily had a lot to learn about witchcraft and how things worked in the new world. This required a lot of detailed explanation which at times was lengthy and confusing.
On a positive note, I did find the ending to be very exciting. If the sequel picks up where this book left off, we should have a continuous progression to the story without all of the history lessons. I also hope there will be more to the romance to help keep the pages turning. If both of those things happen, I think it was well worth persevering through Trial By Fire. This series has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing what will happen next.