REVIEW: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire
Once again, I received this book as an ARC from the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. I met Josephine that morning at an event called Coffee Klatch which made me need this book. Then I saw her again at her signing. She is so so nice and wonderful, and I am beyond happy that I enjoyed the book and that I am able to do this review for her! Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:
“This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from many of the experiences that other teenagers in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly, Lily finds herself in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of all the Crucibles is Lillian…Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.
Lily soon learns that what makes her weak in her world is exactly what makes her extraordinary in this other Salem. It also makes her a priceless target. Now, she’s torn amid dangers she never could have imagined, responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.
But is she the savior of this world or the villain, when she is literally her own worst enemy?”

1. The parallel universe is a little confusing at first, but it gets better.
When Lily arrives in the alternate Salem, it seems as if she’s been transported to the past. However, this world is a blend of our past and a distant future (about 200 years). This is a refreshing change from stories I’ve read like this where time travel is simply time travel. Instead, this is an entirely different world with magic where science and teaching are outlawed. Sounds awesome, right? I thought so, too. That’s why I liked this so much.

2. The characters are kind of odd.
This is NEVER a bad thing. However, even after finishing this, I still don’t know how I feel about everyone. Especially Lily. They were hard to like, but also hard to dislike. I’m unsure about whether or not that was intentional, but I still can’t tell you with 100% certainty that I like or hate anyone. This was both really frustrating and kind of awesome because even though there were two sides, I honestly didn’t know who I wanted to win! As I was reading, it was insanely frustrating, but afterwards, it feels a little bit awesome.

3. The “villain” isn’t very villainous. Possibly to make room for the REAL powerhouses in this book.
The villain in this novel is Gideon. Really, it’s Gideon and the entire council that serve the witches. The council is in place just to placate the public into thinking their government isn’t entirely run by the witches. The witches supply power, medicine, and food for their entire world. Back to Gideon. Gideon is a sniveling wannabe bad boy who kidnaps Lily in an attempt to seize the powers of parallel universes to overthrow the witches. He has a lackey named Carrick (the dreamboat, Rowan’s half brother) and they never seemed that formidable to me. They seemed like easily beaten foes with only half baked plans – which is maybe why the council never supports his crazy theories and plans, anyway.

4. Again, more bad ass women!
Lily is most definitely the classic damsel in distress – at first. In our world, Lily is so crippled by her allergies that she is heavily dependent on people to help her. She is the same in the parallel Salem, but only for a bit while she gets her bearings. After she discovers what her hindrances in her old world translate into in this new world, things definitely begin to change. Both Lily and Lillian (her doppelganger) reveal their amazing power, there is no question at all that the women run this universe, whether or not it is forced.

5. Some survival elements, which I normally hate, but they were made pretty interesting.
So, in this world, there is a race of creatures called the Woven. They were created in order to produce more food/goods from animals. These creatures are so disgusting and they hunt humans. They are always hungry. In the woods, our dreamboat Rowan and Lily are escaping these creatures when their attraction starts to grow. However, shit gets so real in the forest when they destroy a bunch of these creatures in the cabin. That’s about the point where the story shifts and Lily discovers who she can be. The survival in the woods would have normally irritated me, but the way it was told was pretty quick and painless, especially if you’re not down for survival tales. It ends quickly, but still keeps you interested.

6. The writing!
I have met a ton of people who have read some of Josephine Angelini’s books, but I am not one of them. This is my first experience with any of her books and her writing. Admittedly, at some points, I wanted it to go a little quicker. But, when the action did come, I’m glad I read the details that I did because it did way more to paint a picture for me. I felt like so many things happened and at the point I was feeling exhausted from all the action, I was only halfway through. It was fantastic!

7. The science!
Okay. I am an English major and I have never liked science or math. Usually when I read a book where science or math is involved, I tune out. Angelini told us at the coffee event that her version of parallel universes and how they work are based in string theory. Not only that, but all of the “magic” that happens in the book is just science. Herb mixing, heat conducting, you name it. The only difference is in the way science is used. There is a much better explanation in the book. Trust me when I say that this science did not bore me! It may have actually even taught me something. You can tell that Angelini did her homework when it came to science. (Who am I kidding? Even if she lied, I wouldn’t know, but I’m going with it because it was AWESOME).

This book comes out on September 2, 2014 so clicky clicky on the link to pre-order! Trust me when I say you’ll want this on your shelf, no matter how you read it.

FOUR STARS!! I really loved this book, and I am so glad that I did. First novels in series can normally drag, but this one was pretty exciting. I enjoyed the idea of the willstones and minspeak and all of the crazy things in parallel Salem. The characters were abhorrent and awesome all at the same time, and I didn’t know I could have those types of feelings for characters. Usually, it’s so black and white divided for me; I hate them or I love them. This was so great and I will MOST DEFINITELY continue the series


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