Review: Fire Country
Author: David Estes
Genre: Science fiction, dystopia, young adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer's even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely.
Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.
Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with.
As the desert sands run out on her life's hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.
*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
That was awesome!
Fire Country is essentially about how Siena struggles to find her place in her community under the watchful - and often oppressive - eye of her father. Siena is less than a year away from her Call, a time when she will be given to a man to bear children with every three years. She must choose between following tradition and following her heart, all while trying to piece together a secret her father has done all he can to hide.
Siena has a wild and rebellious spirit, and her courage and loyalty were endearing. I really liked her voice, and although I thought I'd have a hard time picking up the slang, I got the hang of it pretty easily. Circ and Siena's friendship-turned-romance was sweet and believable - no instalove here (thank goodness)! Lara was in the background for most of the story, but I thought she was an amazing character and I wish there had been more of her.
The world and atmosphere was amazing. The atmosphere reminded me of Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I felt like every little detail was really well-thought out, and I could feel the burning heat and intensity as I read. There were only a few glimpses at other regions, but I'm sure the later books will give me a better picture of what they are like.
I enjoyed reading about Siena's exploits and discoveries, but I really liked the later portion of the novel. No spoilers here, but I liked how Siena was finally able to love herself for who she was instead of putting herself down all the time. I felt like the pacing of the book could have been adjusted so that this later portion had more importance - to me, this was the meat of the story.
Another minor complaint about pacing - some of the chapters felt really short and abrupt. There wasn't a consistent amount of time passing between chapter endings, so sometimes it felt like a jolt instead of a natural transition. I felt like the short chapters conveyed the intensity of the situation really well, though.
I think it's a testament to how amazing these characters are that I was faced with one of my biggest pet peeves and I wasn't annoyed. I suppose this is a bit of a spoiler, but I have a vendetta against characters magically coming back to life. I think, I've grieved for you, put aside my disbelief, and I have let you go. Now why the hell are you back?. In this case, it was more of a Hooray, you're back!, which hardly ever happens :)
This is my first book by David Estes, and I will be sure to read more. I really enjoyed the world (cheesy swear words and all :D)!