Cover Image: Divided Fire

Divided Fire

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Member Reviews

Fun, well paced. The world is so interesting and I love music so the concept really hit home for me. Overall, really good! I loved all of the characters omg
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Miren and Kesia are two sisters who have lived through a lot and couldn’t be more different. The one thing they have in common is that they love each other fiercely. They get separated early on and spend the book trying to reunite. 

While they were great parts of this book, it fell a little flat for me. I loved the premise and the magic system was unique. I appreciated a magic system where those with abilities also get a sort of drawback.  This also made for some makeshift disability rep. 

Unfortunately, the characters didn’t really mesh well to me. The journey Miren takes to find Kesia is taken with Kesia’s boyfriend. Miren and Kesia have no chemistry , which would be fine since he is for her sister, however, when they are together most of the book, it makes it kind of stale. Kesia is dealing with the situation she was captured into and again there’s not much chemistry between characters. The adventure elements are good and the action peppered throughout is good too.
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First of all - that cover? simply gorgeous. Just like the title, I'm a bit divided on this book. There are some things I really enjoyed, and other things I think could have been done better. The characters were about 50/50 hit or miss for me, and while I love the magic system, I was left wanting to know more about how it worked. I think there was a lot of potential, but unfortunately some things missed the mark for me.
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A million thanks to NetGalley and Clarion Books for supplying me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

4/5 stars

This book was a fresh YA high fantasy (I know, right? Sound contradictory, but they DO still exist!). Just in case you guys aren't sick of me saying this by now, I HATE IT when authors use tropes that have been used five bazillion times. But do you know what trope is VERY underused in YA lit? The family trope. There are lots and lots of romance, but there's never any family. Well, here you have it! There was a fantastic family relationship, which really made this story for me!

Miren and Kesia (I'm sorry but I pronounced it Kesha in my head for most of the story because that's how my brain works but that's WRONG DON'T DO IT IT'S K-EH-SEE-AH) live in a world of Singers. Singers are people who can harness elements with their song. Kesia was given the gift of song, but before they could celebrate much everything fell apart. Singers and all physically-able men started getting drafted into the war, taking her mother and father. Kesia avoided the draft by getting almost fatally ill, supposedly losing her Voice forever. Miren and Kesia lived in relative peace for five more years, before Kesia was abducted by pirates and sold as a slave. Miren, along with Kesia's love Davri set off on a journey to save her, whatever the cost.

All the characters were pretty likable! Miren and Kesia were our MCs and POVs. I have to say I preferred Miren's POV as compared to Kesia's because Miren's internal struggle for her sister was more interesting. That said, Kesia was also interesting, not so much because of her but because of what she went through.

Davri was basic but sweet, and that's really all I have to say about him. I liked him, but he wasn't really special or memorable. All the other side characters were a little one-dimensional but likable enough. I felt like there was a taste of a story but not enough with the side characters. Arten's scars on his back or Cale's almost-escape from his servatude could have lead to an interesting conversation, but they were both glossed over in a paragraph or two. I just wanted a little more out of them.

What I really liked was the worldbuilding. The magic system was so cool! There are plenty of books where music is used as magic, but it was done especially well here. I loved the talk of Singing and of how that worked! I also thought the sign language was interesting because Singers can't talk unless it's to Sing. That wasn't explained very well and I just had to come to the conclusion that they couldn't talk otherwise by myself, but I enjoyed that aspect. Again, I wish it was fleshed out just a bit more. The whole not-able-to-talk thing could also have lead to some drama, but we didn't get any.

All in all, I feel like it was a good book. Solid read. But with just a few tweaks and fixes, it could have been a GREAT book. I would still definitely recommend it if you're looking for a good fantasy standalone!
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Initial Thoughts

This book wasn’t on my radar before I saw the tour email and once I read it, I was totally sold. I loved the idea of songs as magic and I love a good book about the bond of sisters.

Some Things I Liked

Magic system. I really loved the magic system here. Elemental magic controlled by song is such an interesting concept.
Sign language as a theme. Due to the nature of the magic, I loved that sign language was a prominent form of communication. Everyone knew how to sign in Kaleo and it was just second nature. I love when fantasy books normalize breaking barriers.
Pirate motif. I love a good pirate story and I loved that Kesia’s kidnappers were pirates (albeit, they were the bad guys), I liked the aquatic themes.

One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About

The romance. Romance (or lack thereof) is a deal breaker for me. I wanted more romance in this story. Hopefully, we’ll get more in future sequels.

Series Value

I really enjoyed the world building here and I’d read more of this series. I liked the characters and magic system as well. I think there is a lot of potential for more and I’d keep reading.

Final Thoughts

I liked this book. It was missing a key element for me but overall, I liked the sister dynamic, the dual POVs, and the world building.


Recommendations for Further Reading

Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson – if you enjoyed the sister dynamic as well as the dual POVs, try this duology by Sara B. Larson.
The Weight of the Soul – if you liked the idea of one sister going on a journey with the other sister’s boyfriend, try this Viking inspired story.
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Divided Fire tells the story of two sisters–Miren, who doesn’t have the ability to Sing, and Kesia, who can Sing, but depends on her older sister. I really loved Kesia and Miren’s relationship, and the way they would do anything to protect each other. During their journey to find one another, their paths become intricately woven with others to create a compelling read.

“Sometimes, Liviya murmured, “we can’t protect the people we love. Sometimes that’s our fault, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we need to trust that they’re strong enough to hold out for us.”

I didn’t expect to love this book so much, and though it was completely different from what I expected, I enjoyed it. Set in a world where the ability to Sing gives Singers the power to control elements, this is a well-written story that navigates the depths of love and the struggles of acceptance.

This book is told from the views of Kesia and Miren in the third person. I found that the split perspectives helped me to get to know each of the sisters in a personal way and made the story flow better.

Of the two MCs, I found Miren’s point of view to be more interesting. She questions her morals and grapples with her jealousy of not being able to Sing like her sister. After she is separated from Kesia, she’s so determined to save her sister even without magic, and I loved reading about the growth she goes though.

"War doesn’t have good or bad people. Just people who want different things."

On the other hand, Kesia was also a character I admired. She struggles with the consequences of Singing–not being able to speak. Because of this, she is easily ignored by others and it was interesting to see how she makes her words heard without a voice.

Besides the characters, I feel that a factor of the book that worked for me was Filippo’s writing. There was some prose, and it was written beautifully, though there were a few info dumps. But I wished we had more background information on the war, and on what happened to the sisters’ parents.

The world building was well done, and as we follow Miren and Kesia’s paths, this unique world begins to come to life. There was an open ending, which I usually don’t enjoy, but I though it was suitable for this one. This was a standalone (I’m pretty sure), and I’m sad that it’s over.

This book truly is a solid debut that takes you on the journey of two sisters who find their way back to one another while slowly incorporating the trope of found family into the story. I would definitely recommend this for the dimensional characters, an interesting storyline, and a pair of sisters who will steal your heart.
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Okay, hear me out: take the elemental powers of Avatar: The Last Airbender and fuel them with singing, rather than martial arts. That absolutely golden combination lies at the heart of the world Jennifer San Filippo has created in her debut novel, Divided Fire. A captivating tale of sisterhood, magic, and the meaning of strength, this book was a quick, refreshing read with a premise at once classic and original.

Y’all may or may not know, I’m a singer. Lifelong choir nerd. Classically trained for 5 years. Performing in classical, jazz, contemporary, theatre, whatever setting, you name it–and I love seeing books that incorporate music into their plots and worlds’ construction! Music is such an integral part of human existence, and whether tangential or central to a plot, it’s nice to see it acknowledged in fictional worlds. Combining it with magic, giving characters the abilities to–stealing terminology from ATLA–waterbend/firebend/earthbend/airbend just by singing the right song, is so freaking cool. (Also, assigning each element to a voice type–earth for basses, water for tenors, fire for altos, air for sopranos–was a nice touch.) I can’t believe I’ve never read a book with this specific combination (elements + song) before!

First, quick thought: one element of this book that I found particularly fascinating was the dichotomy of speech and song. In this universe, once someone becomes a Singer–someone who can control elements with their voice–they lose their ability to speak and need to communicate exclusively via sign language. One character, a noble, finds out that he is a Singer, only to be told that he will no longer be receiving any royal training, because people who can’t speak are easily spoken over and make for poor aristocrats. There’s something striking about the idea that, in gaining tremendous power linked to your voice, you could also lose a great power that normal people take for granted. The sign language representation was also refreshing to see included here; the limitations on communication it creates (inability to communicate in the dark, difficulty getting people to notice you’ve started talking, etc.) were fairly acknowledged and not glossed over.

Now, on to more normal book considerations. I absolutely loved that this was a YA book that really did not have any focus on romance–the extent of “romantic” involvement was Kesia’s boyfriend trying to rescue her. There were no love triangles. There was no random romantic or sexual tension. It was truly a story focused on family, especially sisterhood. It also addressed bigger issues including the horrors of war, the pain of loss, and the value of human life, through not just the two main characters but also side characters they cross paths with. I can’t stress enough how important it is for there to be YA books that aren’t romance-focused and that allow for exploration of other important parts of life: defining yourself and your values, leaning into the people around you, finding your place in the world.

The two main characters were excellent and strong in different ways: bold, determined older sister Miren, and quiet, sensitive younger sister Kesia. Even when separated, both girls constantly think of each other and try to emulate each other’s better qualities, which I thought was really wholesome to watch. Miren’s companions on her quest did occasionally blur together or lose individual significance (with the exception of a cute little boy named Ori, because small children always make great characters), but each one at least served a distinct purpose and was not added randomly. And the plot and pacing were both strong, with each chapter serving a distinct purpose, no moments of action being bogged down, and generally strong forward momentum.

That said, this book had a couple moments that fell a little flat. Though I did enjoy reading about the characters and found them interesting, I did not feel any deep emotional attachment to them in a way that would elevate this to a five-star read. Some of this may also have to do with the fact that the writing was very clear and clean, but not very artful; there were not many moments where I thought, “Wow, I should highlight/save that quote,” if that makes sense.

Still, as a whole, this was a satisfying standalone, brimming with unique elements that provoked thought and made my nerdy musician heart sing. (Pun intended.)

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book via NetGalley! All opinions are my own.
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This is an overall interesting fantasy read. I loved the concept of music, Singing specifically, being the key to manipulating an element, and I liked how signing was an important aspect of communication for Singers. While I did have some questions about the magic system (Why are Singers otherwise mute? Can they only unlock their talent through a ceremony?), I still found it to be fascinating and easy to understand. I really enjoyed reading this story of two sisters who would do anything to reunite with each, even traveling through warring kingdoms to do so. I wish there had been more information fully explaining the war and the cultural backgrounds of the two kingdoms. The information given in the beginning was too much of an info-dump, making the story feel slow-paced. I also felt like the large cast of characters could get confusing, as I mixed up a few names and wasn’t certain of who was who. Although the worldbuilding isn’t fully explained, the characterization of the main characters and the plot keep readers entertained and engaged in this story.
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Unfortunately Divided Fire and I aren’t hitting it off. I think part of it may be on my end, it could easily be my mood. However from the 40% that I have read, I feeling like it’s dragging. It started of strong and grabbed my attention. Something BIG happened, but now it’s just dragging. I really like the concept and I plan to try reading it again in the future, but I will be DNFing this for now.
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Divided Fire follows two sisters who are our main characters: strong, confident Miren who trusts her physical strength more, and Fire Singer little sister Kesia whose voice can do amazing things. It's a story of two sisters trying to find their way back to each other even when nothing goes their way. It's a story about sisterhood and love and what one would do to protect the ones they love. It's a story of courage, deceit and freedom.
"Not the bad people. War doesn’t have good or bad people. Just people who want different things. Ori stared at Davri as he signed. Ori tried to mimic him: War doesn’t have people."
First, I absolutely loved the concept this books started off with. Controlling elements with songs and voices sounded amazing. The setting was done well and even though I was skeptical about communication, because those who could sing couldn't speak, it was portrayed as normal and I loved that. The author did an amazing job giving details about the lifestyle, the world and the custom. The incorporation of sign language as a custom to their ceremony called Skyflame, the way the singers are chosen, the manipulation of elements, losing their voice to gain status as a singer, everything was unique to the story and it captured mumy attention.
"I’ve always thought that true Singers were those who realized what they were sacrificing and were willing to give it up. You work harder than anyone, but you don’t always get the recognition for it. You gain a Voice, but you lose one too.”
Second, can we just appreciate the fact that the bond between the sisters explored in the book? I didn't expect to find the raw, vulnerable, gritty details of being seperated from each other and the lengths they went to get back together and earn their freedom. The alternative pov between the sisters gave so much depth to the storyline and made the situation even more real for the readers. The contrast in their personalities gave me something to root for. The strength and determination they both showed was inspiring and the circumstances were gritty. I loved their bond and wished we had learnt more about them.
“Sometimes,” Liviya murmured, “we can’t protect the people we love. Sometimes that’s our fault, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we need to trust that they’re strong enough to hold out for us.”
Now coming to Character development and world building, I think both the sisters had their own development wrt the situation and I really liked seeing them grow stronger. The writing might feel a little heavy on the facts and information, but I personally liked knowing about the culture and the world so it didn't bother me. The first half of the book was steadily paced with the author introducing us to the plot line, but the second half felt a lot faster and felt a little too rushed. The plotline reminded me a little of Avatar wrt the elemental magic element, but it had it's unique twist to it. The ending wasn't what I expected it to be and it gave me loads of unanswered questions, but it made sense and felt realistic in a way. If you don't like open endings, then you might not like this one.
Overall, this book had an amazing sisterhood, pirates, elemental magic, kidnappings, sisters who would fo anything to protect each other and sassy dialogues, gritty scenes and heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. Beware of the open ending this book has, but other than that, I really enjoyed my time reading this book and I recommend picking this up !!
Thank you Turn the Pages tours and for the review copy!
Kindle/ Arc/ November 2020
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I found this book really refreshing. It didn’t go down the routes and alley’s that I expected, and best of all – there’s no romance in this book. there’s mentions of it, and an ongoing relationship, but the sisters are solely focused on their goals. I love romance, you all know this, but it was wonderful to just enjoy a fantasy book where the love of a partner isn’t the end goal for our protagonist.

The relationships between the sisters felt real – frustrating, at times snippy, and very protective. I liked that there wasn’t an odd romantic tension between Miren and Davri; or between Kesia and the individuals she comes across in her own journey.

The sign language aspect is fantastic. I’ve never seen sign language used in a book like this before, widely and well; and really enjoyed it. I find these things blindside you in a book, and make you realise how little these incredibly day to day aspects of life are used. I’d love in the follow on books to see characters using it because they don’t speak generally, not just because they’re singers.

Miren and Kesia are great, well fleshed out characters. Both are emotionally strong, resilient characters – though we see them grieve. We see them cry. We see their internal struggle to remain focused and positive. They were likeable characters, and I didn’t have that lurch of disappointment you sometimes get when reading a split POV book – I wanted to know what was happening in each of their sections. Davri is a great character too, quiet but resolute, dedicated and warped by his aristocratic upbringing. I lived for the fact he wasn’t as stereotypical lords son from a lot of YA – we had no chiselled jaw and tight abs here but a pampered young man raised in luxury. He felt real.

Overall the plot of this book was fast where it needed to be, and slowed down at the exact right moments. It was tense and there were struggles and I genuinely worried for the characters I was reading about. There are a wider spread of characters who were difficult and stubborn and difficult and I still cared about them. We’ve been introduced to a small amount of the world and I’m hungry for more.

I didn’t foresee the end; but the ending made absolute sense. It was a strong ending that laid the path for a sequel where I really hope they find their parents and that Davri manages whatever it is he’s planning to do. I don’t know why, but I imagined Miren suddenly becoming the worlds most powerful singer, and that it had been hidden within her all along and can I please clap the author for not making that happen. She is a wonderful singer, but doesn’t have the magic. And I loved that. I really, truly loved seeing her internal thoughts on getting over her jealousy, moving past her own battle with not having the one thing she’s always wanted. It was heart wrenching and realistic and an absolute joy to read from a narrative perspective.
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When I first received my copy of Divided Fire, it sounded like an intriguing read. Miren and Kesia must find their way back to each other after Kesia, a "chosen Singer," is kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery. As I started reading, I immediately drew parallels to the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Instead of using bending to control the world's four elements, they used a form called "Song" directed by Singers in Divided Fire. For me, the potential of the book went downhill after the novelty of the revelation wore off.  

It was a plodding start, and it took a while for me to get into the story. My biggest concern in the introduction is that if these chosen people are Singers, why are they mute? Maybe it was a way for the author to represent sign language? Filippo never clearly explained how the characters can "sing" if they're silent or why they lose their speaking voice in the first place. Then as you continue reading, it seems this magical talent of Singing loses its meaning.

As much as I didn't want to, I did finish the book, but I'd be hard press to return to it. Between the synopsis and what I read, the recap sounded way more interesting than what the book produced.  As far as the rating goes, this book was working on a two 1/2-star rating. I bumped it up to a three because the action at the end of the book surprised me. I had to wait until the end to see some actual power from these characters and their melodic gifts. Unfortunately, that's the only entertainment I had with the story. If there's to be a sequel to the book, I won't be picking it up.
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DIVIDED FIRE is a beautiful YA fantasy about sisterhood and war. Miren and her sister Kesia live in their small town with a big secret. All the men and Singers have been drafted to the war - they lost their father and their Singer mother to it. Singers use their voices in song to control the world around them with one ability over an element (fire, water, earth, and air). This is typically used for the betterment of the town, but it has now been turned for war. When the soldiers went through the town, Kesia was ill with a disease known to take away a voice. They assumed she had lost her ability to Sing. However, Kesia did not - a secret only she and Miren know.

That secret blows up their world when pirates come and steal a young woman from their town. Kesia can't stand by, and she uses her fire singing to stop them. Instead, they take her, as the price for a Singer is even better, and a fire singer is the rarest ability. Miren tries to fight them, but she is unable to do so, and the sisters are separated. Miren has spent much of her life protecting Kesia, and she refuses to let this be the end. Together with the lord's son, they follow after Kesia, learning more about their country and the world than they could have anticipated. At the same time, Kesia is learning terrible truths about people and fighting to stay alive and get back to her sister. Following their journeys in alternating sections, the world building grows alongside discussions of morality, war, and human nature.

What I loved: This book was absolutely captivating. I loved the idea of magic and Singing as well as the ultimate power of sisterly love that encompasses their stories. As we travel with Miren and experience Kesia's paths, this unique world begins to come to life. I was really intrigued by these countries and people. This book was without romance, and I loved that the focus throughout was on the sisters and their love for each other. The plot also kept a nice and steady pace that carried the reader through the story relatively quickly.

The characters were all really well built. They had clear strengths and weaknesses, and I appreciated the imperfections. I liked not only the main characters, but also the side characters that we meet along the way. This is definitely a world I want to return to.

Final verdict: DIVIDED FIRE is a captivating and compelling YA fantasy abut sisterhood with fantastic world building and intricately crafted characters. Highly recommend for fans of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL and SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT.

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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"War doesn't have good or bad people. Just people who want different things."

This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking story of sisterly love, kindness, and fighting for those you love.

The immense love the two sisters had for each other in this book was incredible. They go through so much hardship throughout the book and had already gone through so much that it was just heartbreaking. But it was incredible to see them fight so hard for each other. I think what was truly inspiring was that they would have gone through worse to get to each other again. They had already lost so much and they couldn't lose each other as well.

We also get to see the story of another family trying to fight to find each other which is just as heartbreaking and inspiring. The cruelty we see in this book was hard to read sometimes, but it was through the courage of this family and the sisters that I knew everything would be okay.

This was such a compelling story that I couldn't stop reading it even if I wanted to. Luckily, I didn't want to stop. It moved at 100 mph and never slowed down. There were a couple of points where it was beginning to feel tired, but then it would quickly redeem itself and keep moving forward. 

I also really loved all the signing in this book. Those with a Voice couldn't talk so they would sign. I love how normal this was. And, I also loved that even those without a voice could read sign language. The author did a great of conveying the emotions of the characters that signed even when we couldn't hear that emotion in their voice. 

There is a bit of an open ending, which I normally don't like, but I thought was very fitting for this book. Things couldn't be changed in a matter of a few weeks, especially across two countries, so I thought the author wrapped things up the best way possible.

Overall, this book was so well written and plotted that it should be a compelling read for all. It's a great reminder to fight for those you love and that which you believe to be right. This is a must-read for all!
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Divided Fire is a young adult fantasy story about two sisters by Jennifer San Filippo. I loved that this book not only showcased a really interesting idea for a fantasy world (more on that later) but that it also featured to very different sisters as the main characters. I always enjoy a good sisterly tale. In Divided Fire the world has an elemental magic system. I know what you are thinking- well that doesn't sound too unique? And I agree, but here the twist is that your voice, specifically your singing voice is the key to unlocking the elemental magic. I loved this combination of signing, magic and using your voice to fight. It was a really cool idea, and the world building was my favorite element of this story. I am not 100% sure if this book is going to be a standalone or a series opener, but I am hoping (and leaning towards) a series because there are some things left unanswered at the end of Divided Fire. I am interested to see if there is going to be another book so we an tie a few of those open ends up. I think this could be a really good duology. 

In Divided Fire, we meet our two main characters- Sisters Kesia and Miren. As I mentioned before, magic users in this world can control an element with their voice, but this is not something that everyone can do. Out of our two sisters, Kesia is a Fire Singer while Miren does not exhibit any singing powers. Those that do have the ability to control elements with their songs are drafted into becoming fighters in the fierce war the country is currently embroiled in. There is also a really cool use of sign language throughout the story as it relates to the singers. I found all of that fascinating! Though our story follows the two sisters, a lot of the book featured them split up because Kesia has been taken and Miren is trying to rescue her. I really enjoyed the split perspectives because it allowed us to get to know each of the girls better and I think it makes the story more interesting. 

I will admit that because there is so much going on in the world, the beginning of the story felt a little info-dumpy at times, which I didn't love. A lot of it was vital and pertinent information that we did need to know for the story, but I just wish it was presented and incorporated  in more of a showing and not straight telling way. But that is really my only issue with the story. Other than that, I was swept up in this rescue mission. There is a lot going on in this story and at times it is hard to keep everyone and everything happening straight, but I still really enjoyed the tale. 

If you are a fan of fantasy stories that feature unique magic, sisterly love and a cool rescue type adventure, then Divided Fire will be a book you should check out. I had some minor issues with the story but overall, I really enjoyed this one. I am interested to see if there will be a sequel. 

3.5/5 gavels
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This book was received as an ARC from Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This must be my lucky day, two books I've read are all about sisterly bonds and the female protagonists are such strong women that nothing will break them. When Kesia gets kidnapped and is wanted for her magic that could turn the whole outcome of the war, it's up to her older sister Miren's strength and guidance and her unlikely pair with Kesia's boyfriend, Miren will stop at nothing to save her sister, even if it means putting both their lives at risk. This book was unique, different and thrilling enough that I can't wait to hear the discussions from our teen book club.

We will consider adding this title to our YA collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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Because iPads are terrible, this is the second time I will be writing this review. My thoughts likely won't be as detailed as they were the first time, but this is where we are, so I apologize. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed the premise of this book, I really struggled to invest in it or finish it. The characters weren't developed well, the plot felt rushed, and there never seemed to be any real stakes to the action. Despite my lack of any real emotions regarding this book, I will do my best to give it a fair and honest review, as I like to support debut authors in whatever way I can. 

<i>Divided Fire</i> follows the story of Kesia and Miren, two sisters who live in a world where some people are given the ability to control the elements with their voices. While Miren doesn't have any powers, Kesia is a Fire Singer, giving her the ability to create and control flames with her Songs. Miren and Kesia's country is in the middle of a terrible war, however, and most of the Singers (including their parents) have been drafted to fight. 

Luckily, Kesia has escaped this draft by claiming a childhood illness took away her powers. Everything  changes when their small village is attacked by pirates, and Kesia is discovered when using her powers to save someone from their wrath. While Kesia is whisked away by the pirates to be sold into slavery, Miren teams up with the Fire Singer's boyfriend Davri in the hope of saving her. Along the way, the two sisters are tested by many challenges, and learn what it takes to fight for their freedom.

I'd like to begin with the positives, as I want to do my best to be fair and constructive when it comes to this book. First of all, I really enjoyed the premise and overall concept of this world. The Singers in this world remind me a lot of the benders in <i>Avatar: The Last Airbender</i>, and there seems to be a lot of culture ingrained in their powers. For example, the book begins with the sisters going to a ceremony called Skyflame, where older Singers symbolically welcome new Singers and awaken their powers. 

I also really loved the inclusion of sign language, as that is a lesser utilized language in the realm of YA. When Singers gain their powers, they lose the ability to speak, and must communicate using sign language instead of their voices. The sign language is incorporated using italics, and while we can't see the physical signs, the inclusion of this was really cool to me. It even presented sign language as being powerful, as it denotes someone as a Singer. Though the use of sign language is not always clear (I'm still not sure if it's something everyone learns at a young age in this world or just a select few), I thought it was a cool addition to the world-building. 

Unfortunately, however, this is where my praise must end. While the premise and setup for this novel's main story are unique and intriguing, the characters and actual plot are not as well done. I'll begin by examining the characters. Filippo has the rather unfortunate habit of telling us how the characters are feeling instead of showing us. For example, we are meant to believe Kesia and Davri are deeply in love and close to becoming engaged, but we barely see them together in the novel. I honestly felt like Davri would've been more suited to Miren, as they begin the novel by reluctantly teaming up to save someone they both love. 

In my opinion, this story would've worked better if Davri and Miren had begun to develop feelings for one another during the journey, going from initial dislike to admiration and then love. There would've been an added element of drama, as the two would have to wrestle with the guilt of betraying Kesia, but this would've been far more compelling than what we got. Similarly, the relationship between the two sisters is <i>described</i> as being incredibly close, we really only get to see them together for two chapters (one of which is a flashback) before the plot kicks off in full force. As it is, both the reunion between the sisters and Kesia and Davri felt hollow to me, as there wasn't enough time dedicated to fleshing out their relationships to one another. 

Similarly, the plot felt very rushed to me, and every challenge the characters face is almost instantly resolved and tied into a neat bow. Davri and Miren are imprisoned by Davri's uncle? They almost immediately escape and a minor character shoots the antagonist dead before they flee. Kesia is imprisoned and forced to work on an airship as a slave? Let's have her work there for a few chapters before escaping with little issue, only to go back later and rescue an entire factory's worth of slaves with just her own powers and the powers of a twelve-year-old boy. I didn't find it particularly believable that these two kids would be able to do something that a huge group of fully grown adults with elemental powers couldn't by themselves in the span of one night. 

There are never any consequences for the actions of the characters, and while they may ponder what they've done, it never feels like there are any stakes. At one point, Kesia brutally bludgeons one of her jailers, but the novel never pauses to let her reflect on the gravity of the murder. While the murder was likely justified (the man had just killed five other Singers), Kesia had never killed before, and I don't feel like enough gravity was given to this situation. Similarly, there is a moment when Zuriel, a young boy Kesia meets after her escape, is drafted into the army at age twelve. His parents are terrified and wondering how to get him out of it... and the plot goes nowhere. Zuriel teams up with Kesia to help the slaves escape the factory, and Zuriel's parents are never mentioned again. Little moments and plot threads like this add up to a lot of missed opportunities, making the plot feel even more rushed than it already was.

Lastly, I feel the need to talk about the minor characters, as there are so many of them that I literally can't keep any of their names straight. From the family of servants that help Davri and Miren escape, to the little Fire Singer Kesia meets in the factory, there are many characters I felt had wasted potential. While a little effort is made to develop the family (Liviya is a pretty cool matriarchal figure), there is yet again a noticeable lack of substance when it comes to the rather large cast of characters. 

As I mentioned before, the servant Hana and her young son Ori are left behind in the end, even though it felt like the author was trying to develop them more than other minor characters. Kesia meets a young Fire Singer slave who is used merely as someone to rescue; she has very little personality aside from being meek and shy. I wanted to see Kesia form a strong female friendship with this character (because I adore a strong female friendship in YA), but she's really only used to be a damsel in distress. There were some interesting ideas within these characters, but it felt like Filippo wasn't always quite sure what to do with them. 

As before, my criticism stems from the fact that too much is introduced far too quickly, and while some plots are tied in a neat little bow, others are left with large, looming question marks. For example, we never find out what happened to Kesia and Miren's parents, and we have no idea what's going to happen when the protagonists return home. Considering Davri's father was going to have Miren arrested for concealing her sister's powers, I don't imagine returning with a boat full of escaped Singers is going to end well for the party. I'm not sure if this book is meant to be the first in a series, but if it's a stand-alone, it left a lot of questions while making other conflicts (freeing the slaves, reuniting the sisters, saving Liviya's family) far too easy and convenient.

Overall, this wasn't the most terrible thing I've ever read. I want to encourage Filippo to continue writing and improving, as I think this idea has a lot of potential and her writing style isn't bad. In the future, I would like to see her focus on building characters and appealing to the reader's emotions, as I feel a lot more connected to a character when I can empathize or relate to that character. I also think she would benefit from slowing down the story, and taking time to develop things through both dialogue and character-driven scenes. Instead of dragging her protagonists from one obstacle to the next, I would like to see the settings, characters, and plot work together to create a more coherent story. 

If the author sees this (and I almost hope she doesn't, because I would hate to discourage her), I hope she is able to see this criticism as constructive rather than attacking. Publishing your first book is no small feat (I should know, as I have never had the guts to try publishing my writing), and I have no doubt that she'll be able to hone her skills with every book she writes. I wish her the best, and look forward to seeing what she writes in the future. That being said, I would not necessarily recommend this book, as I've seen everything  in it done better in other YA fantasy books and series.
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This book was amazing! Strong plot! Powerful characters! A plot that held my attention the entire time!!!! I couldn’t put it down. I needed to find out what happened next!
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