I have been plagued by the intrigue and temptation that is Francesca’s Haig’s Fire Sermon for weeks. When a fabulous and blazing front cover was planted repeatedly before my eyes, I began to crack.
And then you hear a summary like ‘they are born twins, but they only share their death’, how can you not want to read more?Fire Sermon is released on Thursday, 26 February 2015. It’s only a couple days away so get your preorders in now to get it asap. You can read a sample of the first couple of chapters for free on Amazon.
Why should you preorder it? Well, from how the sample reads, this is going to be a very stunning story. I have already heard a rumour Dreamworks or somebody has their eyes on it.
Haig’s use of imagery is wonderful, and her parrallel timeline storytelling is seamless.
Fire Sermon is a dytopian young adult novel whereby twins are born either perfect (alpha, not necessarily aryan) or deformed (omega). Omegas will often have an obvious physical deformity, or in rare cases, like our heroine Cassandra, it is a hidden psychic ability. Also when one dies/get’s hurt, so does the other. Like the Skeksis and urRu. (OMG, Haig is totally a Dark Crystal fan, now I like her even more.)
Before we go any further, can we please roll our eyes affectionately at the Elephant in the room. A seer called Cassandra. Really? Did you even try? i jest of course, my favourite novel series ever also has a seer called Cassandra, and I know it stems from the original Greek myths and all that. It’s a nice name, unoffensive and already puts your reader into ‘the zone’ due to its heritage. Authors can never win can they? Going traditional and they are too traditional, making up new names and its downright odd. Looking at you Katniss and Tris.
That brings us nicely to the next review of Fire Sermon, or rather its setting. As per the afore insinuated Hunger Games and Divergent, the popular YA fiction these days is dystopian. It is worlds where we must fight the politics of a dictating states following our world getting destroyed due to our hellbent ways of killing the ozone and environments – whereas a decade ago we happily gushed over boy wizards fighting off rebel factions of do-badders alongisde our muggle lives. I guess Twilight was a nice bridge between these two changes in pace, being a micro-war against a governing bully-monarchy which no one knew existed.
But we’re getting off topic. Fire Sermon is set in the “After” or what we can assume is our “Before”. A few hundred of so years when genetics have screwed up and are averaging out in convuluted ways. People tend to love manual labour to bring back society don’t they, as like many other apocalypse theories, our protagonist is farming as the story begins. Shows physical strength in body, and used to fresh air. Makes going into a cell all that much more sad. Oops, spoiler.
Like I said, Cass is an omega seer. So shes had a tough time, what with being part of the oppressed group of humans. Her family/omegas have no family, cast her out/omegas are poison to be sent away, and she has visions/a deformity, in which she sees the blaze/the blaze that destroyed everything, also the root of the omega poison; but is now beginning to see the island/there is no island. This island/there is no island stop saying it, is a safe haven for omegas, and it is believed they will be having an uprising/there is no uprising, you will now be flogged. Sounds exciting, I wonder where Cass will end up? This isn’t the paralympics, so it will be exciting how Haig brings physical-handicaps into a fight against her self-confessed super human race.
Let us move on to Haig’s writing style. In a word: Beautiful. I must admit I find it a paradox, for it leaves no room for imagination, only because it is so full of vivid detail. Haig’s words are not blank ink on a page, but a technicolour ride into her written world. You can see everything, from the hay in the barn to the grey skin of prisoners, hear the buzzing of lightbulbs and wings of beetles in jars. It’s no wonder this new book has been tipped for the big screen already.
I didn’t feel heartbreak at the ultimate betrayal of the brother (not really a spoiler, you knew it was coming) but then, you have to remember these kids had been brought up by suspicious parents who never showed either affection, constantly reminded they were actually enemies and horrendously assaulted by neighbours. If you had felt heartbreak or some severe emotional reaction from Cass, that would have been bad writing. How Haig has developed the character in those early pages is spot on in terms of psychological development of a 13 year old.
The last point that struck me about the sample reading of Fire Sermon, was Haig’s timeline writing. The reader witnesses Cass’s current struggle of capture and cell, while recalling her childhood. It keeps your heart pumping the entire time. It is quite edge of your seat. Even though you know she gets found out – she’s on an omega farm – you just don’t know how. And oh, even when you think its all over there is another twist.
So if the sample is anything to by, Haig has created a masterful novel which will be a talking point for this generation. Go get it.