Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review of The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Haig, Francesca.  The Fire Sermon.  Gallery Books, 2015.

In the distant future, the world has been ravaged by an atomic blast and radiation, supposedly caused by technology.  Twins, one boy and one girl, are now always born to couples.  One twin, the Alpha, is perfect, while the other twin, the Omega, is flawed in some way.  Either a limb is missing, or the baby is blind or deaf, or the Omega is a Seer and has no obvious physical deformities.

Alphas and Omegas are split as soon as possible, with Omegas being branded, banished, and persecuted.  Alphas are the Golden Children, born into privilege and opportunity.  But there is a fatal element to the twin relationship; the twins are linked.  No matter how far apart the siblings live, when one twin dies, so does the other.

Zach and Cass aren’t split until they are thirteen years old.  Cass does her best to hide the fact that she is a Seer, but Zach waits patiently until he can expose her, and she is ultimately branded and exiled.  Years later, Zach has become a leader on the Alpha Council and has Cass kidnapped.  She is imprisoned in The Keeping Rooms, where she is interrogated by The Confessor, an Omega Seer working for the Alpha Council.

After several years, Cass manages to escape and frees another prisoner from a situation worse than hers.  With Council soldiers chasing them, She and “Kip” flee, searching for a supposedly mythical island—a haven where Omegas can live safe and free.  But both Alphas and Omegas need Cass, not just because she is a Seer, but because she sees things differently and hopes for a world where Alphas and Omegas can coexist.

This is the debut novel and the first installment in a new series by Francesca Haig.  The prose the author uses is beautifully written, testifying to her poetry background.  Haig’s world building is amazing and unique, with vivid descriptions of the island, the Omega settlements, and the ocean.  Her characters are strong and well developed.  My favorite character is Kip, who has been through so much, but still manages to remain positive and strong for Cass.

The twin concept in The Fire Sermon offers a fresh and interesting twist in the currently popular dystopian genre.  The action scenes in the book will keep the reader turning the pages!  The movie rights for novel have been optioned by Dreamworks, and the sequel will come out in January, 2016, first in the UK and then in the US.  Haig is already working on the third volume. 

The Fire Sermon will be enjoyed by The Hunger Games and Divergent fans.  I highly recommend it for middle school, high school, and public libraries and give it four out of five fleur de lis!

 *Reviewer’s note:  The copy reviewed was an e-ARC received from Net Galley.