Saturday, September 13, 2014
Book Review: 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.
I wanted so badly to love this book, especially since I've loved Angelini's other books and everyone else has nothing but glowing praise for this book. While I certainly enjoyed it, I just could not get completely into it. I found the main character hard to root for and annoying.
One of my problems was the pacing. I was constantly checking to see how many pages were left. I don't know why, but it seems like I keep stumbling on books that have strong plots and should be impossible to put down, but something about the pacing - long paragraphs or overdone descriptions, I guess? - makes them seem never-ending. Thankfully, with Trial by Fire there really was a strong storyline and great writing, so that helped make up for the pacing.
This book is fun and unique...and also a bit confusing. The basis of the plot is centered around alternate worlds, which is the main reason for the confusion. It's a lot to keep track of! But if you pay attention, you'll appreciate the complexity of the story and the way Angelini writes out every detail of the culture she's created. And the writing was good - yay for entertaining dialogue!
But I just did not like Lily. She didn't click with me. I think part of it is that she seems like too much of a martyr. Not only that, but she's extremely naive. She thinks she's in love with her friend Tristan, but then in the alternate universe she was falls for a guy Rowan. The romance just seemed jumbled and all over the place.
I might read the sequel, but it's not going to be high on my priority list. Although I appreciated the creativity and detailed world-building, the slow pacing and unlikeable main character ruined the book for me. But if you're interested, I definitely think it's worth checking out - nearly everyone else seems to have loved this book! I guess it just wasn't for me.
*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars