Tell the Wind and Fire

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2016

Member Reviews

The premise seemed really excited. However, the execution is lacking. It's too slow paced and gets into too many details in its first half, cutting the overall interest factor of the book.
Will shelve and give it another try in the future
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2.5 stars

Yet another book I've read this year that starts poorly, but ends decently.  If the rest of the book had been like the last 20-25%, I probably would've liked it more.  

As every review of this book will mention, Tell the Wind and Fire (a beautiful title, btw), is a reimagining of A Tale of Two Cities.  Obligatory disclaimer that, while I read AToTC in high school, it was at the end of the year, while we were doing AP exams, and since it wouldn't be necessary for that exam and I've never been a huge Dickens fan anyway, I have very little memory of the classic.  I remember the oft-quoted lines at the beginning and near the end, plus the concept of characters being foils of each other.  That's it.  But that's fine.  I have no clue how close TtWaF is to AToTC, but I'm not sure my enjoyment of the book would be enhanced by knowing more than those three things--all of which could be said to inform my (met) expectations of what the book contained.

In this book, the divided city is New York, with part of it populated by Light magicians and the other part populated by Dark magicians (with some exceptions).  Revolution is sparked when Lucie, our protagonist, uses her light magic and youth to put on a show of innocence that gets her father out of a magical prison and both of them sent to Light New York.  The rebels--sans-merci--in the Dark half of the city, use this to spark rebellion and revolution, claiming that she is being held captive by those who control the city.  The book opens with Lucie's boyfriend Ethan, son and nephew to those who control the city, being accused of working with the sans-merci.  Despite Lucie's knowledge that Ethan is far too good to have done wrong and his status as a Stryker, it looks like a death sentence for him, until a boy with the exact same face who just happens to be on the train too, points out that it might have been him that did the deed.  Carwyn is Ethan's doppelgänger, his foil.  

All the above information is introduced in the book in a confusing way.  We aren't grounded in the setting beyond the words "light" and "dark" being said every other word.  Lucie hints at her past, but not enough that we feel anything but confusion over it.  The world's rules are thrown at us, and we're expected to accept them, even though we don't really understand the world yet.  Lucie hints at knowing how to deal with guards, how to use their swords, but we can only guess as to what's fueling that knowledge (I incorrectly guessed that she had once been a guard-in-training).  She throws around Ethan's last name and her title, but those have no meaning to *us.*  Only a couple chapters in does she start explaining her background (she tries to excuse it by saying she started in the wrong place, but I happen to agree that she did).  It's a chapter of telling us about what seems to be a very interesting episode in her life, but we see it at a distance, rather than living it with her.  It's the catalyst for the main conflict of the book, but it happens off-screen.

From here Lucie gets to know Carwyn, trying to thank him for saving Ethan and treating him more fairly than most people would a doppelgänger.  It's a pseudo-love triangle, in that she takes several actions that seem like she might like Carwyn, but for the whole book she stays steadfastly in love with Ethan (which is a nice change from most YA).  While I thought Lucie was naive in this part, it was nice to watch them get to know each other a little.  

If I thought there were hints that Lucie might be acting a little more naively than her character should be, I didn't quite grasp the oncoming wave of characters acting ignorant or downright stupid that was most of the rest of the book.  When Carwyn pretends to be Ethan in places (as any good doppelgänger must at some point), he makes no attempt to act like Ethan...and yet nobody, even the people who know that he exists, guess that he is Ethan.  Even when Lucie tries to explain why they're excusing "Ethan's" behavior, it seems like an all-too-convenient excuse for the author to let Carwyn make fun of Ethan while pretending to be Ethan and get away with it.  I also got over Carwyn's attitude really fast, which is telling, since I often root for the bad-boy character.  The Strykers, including Ethan, all seem to be easy to manipulate or make the wrong choices, and to make matters worse, there's Lucie, thinking how she knows better and *never saying anything*.  So now we have the audience going in knowing better too, knowing that the Strykers are making stupid choices, and watching Lucie do literally nothing.

Until the revolution actually strikes.  Finally Lucie does something, about equal to her described actions before the book began.  As I've said before I really enjoyed the last quarter of the book.  The characters all seem to finally act according to how we expect them to act...except for Carwyn, who does a 180 about then, based on something that was hinted at once.  But he's forgiven because his role in the end is so excellent.  

*I received a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, though I am very late on it*

Recommended for fans of: YA non-fairytale retellings; AU contemporary fantasy; characters acting stupid or silent; magical dystopia; confusing world-building; catalyst before the book begins; bittersweet endings; too-sweet cupcakes
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Unfortunately, TELL THE WIND AND FIRE is not the book for me. I tried to get into it, but didn't like the narration.
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I didn't like the storyline or the worldbuilding
Thought I think this is a great idea, the execution didnt work for me. It felt to generic
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Tell the Wind and Fire is a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities set in an unpleasant future. In Lucie Manette's world all of humanity is divided into the Light and the Dark. Dependent on the dark magicians, the ruling Light keeps them close in divided cities. Lucie escaped the Dark with her broken father and became a symbol for the both the Light and the Dark.

I found the setting of this book incredibly intriguing. It is very atmospheric and gritty. Lucie is kind of like Katniss in Mockingjay in that she is being used by all parties against her will, and the stakes are very high. I also really liked how Sarah Rees Brennan used doppelgangers to explain why Ethan had an exact lookalike (always a suspend-your-disbelief aspect of A Tale of Two Cities). The whole doppelganger element was very interesting--how they are created, the implications for Ethan's family, how the doppelgangers are treated. Also, I like that this futuristic, dystopian tale is not a series. It felt so good to have the whole story.

The biggest problem in this book is that the characters are pretty flat. Lucie is definitely the most fully developed, but I didn't love her interminable inner monologue. So much guilt about all her lies. Lots and lots of thinking, and it got repetitive, especially as the book was nearing the conclusion. Lucie and Ethan don't really have much chemistry. They just tell us over and over again how in love they are. Of the three main characters, I thought Carwyn was the most interesting, and he and Lucie were pretty entertaining together. I laughed out loud at some of their snipes.

In cases of retellings, the reader often knows where the plot is going (I've read A Tale of Two Cities twice), so the book's enjoyment is not necessarily in discovering what comes next, but in how the author recasts a familiar story and makes it new and interesting. There were a lot of interesting things about Tell the Wind and Fire, but, because I wasn't surprised by any of the plot twists, it made some of the weaker aspects of the story all the more evident.
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I've wanted to read Sarah's books for years and since this is a stand-alone I thought it would be a good choice. It wasn't. The characters are cookie-cutter copies of every single YA character ever written, there's an awful love triangle, the worldbuilding was non-existent and the plot bored me to tears. I really hope her other books are better than this because I was so disappointed.
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Opening line:
"It was the best of times until it was the worst of times."

I should have realized from the opening line that this book would be similar to one of my favorite Dicken's stories: Tale of Two Cities. That might be why I loved this story. Or maybe it's the storytelling, how the author wove love and war in between each other. Or maybe it's because of the main character, Lucie, and her journey to understand herself, her enemies and her destiny. 

This story is literally light and dark battling each other. Lucie is from the Dark City, but because she freed her father from the "cages" the politicians in the Light City decided to hold her up as an example of someone from the other side choosing correctly. She always does what everyone tells her; she believes this is the only way to keep her loved ones safe. But what about her own soul? That is the Lucie's theme throughout the story. When is lying okay? And killing? And revenge? 

About half way through the book, Lucie realizes she doesn't really know the people she loves. She will not trade secrets and therefore, doesn't know what hides behind her loved ones masks. 

I did skim some of the info/backstory dumping but found it was part of the secrets. 
i felt the ending was over too quickly but not sure how it would end otherwise. 

For the sensitive reader: war, death, killings, kissing

Thanks to netgalley for the read!
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Full of intrigue, at times creepy, at others tense. this is a good choice for both school and public libraries.
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LOVED THIS love the author a lot too. The book was so clever and funny.
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This story had promise with a heroine that was determined to do right but then it all went downhill. Stuck in a sort of love triangle she tries to fight her way through a revolution of a futuristic New York stuck between two groups, dark and light. I liked both heroes as they represented each of the factions in totality. The writing was very good in terms of character descriptions and relationship build ups. However the plot was very confusing, what was she fighting and what kind of ending was that. This non ending with no questions answered totally ruined the book for me . The extra star is for the picturesque world building.
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I liked that this was a modern retelling of a Tale of a two Cities. I loved the world building involved, though I found the story to wane a bit in the middle. Over all it was good. I’d read more from this author in the future.
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This one was surprising because the majority of my friends didn't like it, yet I was pleasantly surprised. While I didn't love it, I still enjoyed the story. It is a tale of two cities retelling and I thought the way the parallels worked out was very interesting! I liked seeing the similar plot points appearing in this fantasy world where there is light and dark and magic.

The middle dragged a bit though. I mean, it's not long before the action picks up again but there is a definite lag in pace. I also ended up not being the biggest fan of Lucy, who is one of our main characters, but the other characters made up for it. I really liked the ending though and thought it was so fitting. I would recommend if you are at all a fan of A Tale of Two Cities because I thought the way it was retold was unique and original!
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Review can be found on my blog at the following link. Link will be live on 1/23/18.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book. It felt very unique with the Light and Dark magic and the way the worlds were divided.

The Good: 

The world: I liked that the light and dark worlds were dependent on each other so even though they weren’t exactly friends, each was a necessary evil. It gave a layer of complexity to the story. I also really liked how unique the magic was.

Dopplegangers: What an interesting concept that I’ve never really seen in a book before. I loved the unique way these creatures were created and I loved the question posed about their humanity.
The message: I loved the themes of equality and human rights present throughout this book. I really enjoyed watching the main character learn to re-evaluate the way she looks at the world and the people around her: both Light and Dark

Tale of Two Cities Parallels: I love A Tale of Two Cities and really enjoyed seeing the parallels between Sarah’s world and Charles Dickens’.

The Bad: 

Not going to lie, the main character was a bit annoying at first. She was also somewhat one-dimensional and I never fully connected to her. I think she got better as the story went on, but I wanted a little more character development.

The pace was a little slow moving at times. It felt kind of stop and go for me. In particular, I felt like there was a bit of a lag in the middle.
Overall, I liked the story. I still really want to read her Lynburn Legacy as I’ve heard tons of good things about it!
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Read this before it came out but apparently never did write the review [oops]. I didn't love this as much as id hoped to, sadly. Carwyn was my favorite character, which is kind of funny because I don't know if we're even really supposed to like him? Ethan was just meh. I liked Lucie okay, but her being the symbol of hope for the rebellion was...interesting. overall, didn't hate it as much as other reviewers I've seen, but didn't love it either. In truth, the story may have been better served as a longer book or a duology, so the plot didn't feel so choppy and chaotic and so we got to know the characters on a more than superficial level. Also would've helped give time to actually *explain* how the world just suddenly had magic!
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I tried to understand it but it felt too complicated. Maybe I'll try again later.
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Full disclosure, I have never read A Tale of Two Cities. I KNOW, I should, and I’ve lost some Brit Lit cred in your eyes. This book is a fantasy retelling of the Dickens novel, set in an alternate future where Dark and Light magic have torn society apart, to the point that the two cities are vastly different parts of New York.

The protagonist, Lucie, differs from the Dickensian Lucie Manette in that she is the central figure and the narrator. She also has a lot of dark secrets. For being 17 in the book, Lucie is incredibly mature, and very socially adept. She is famous on both the Light and Dark sides for being “The Golden Thread in the Dark,” a symbol of hope and devotion, and also of resistance.

The romance between Lucie and Ethan Stryker, the son of one of the most important men in the city, is a constant source of conflict and drives most of the plot. Despite this, the emotions she carries didn’t become cloying, in my opinion, although it did seem a bit unrealistic that a 17 year old could be so steady and self aware.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has read A Tale of Two Cities, and those who have not but would be interested in a female protagonist with an unwavering focus.
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This book wasn't for me. 

Simply could not get into the story.   
Nor did anything pull me to continue reading.

Did not finish.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the readers copy.
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This book started off great but deteriorated as it went on. I loved Carwyn and he was a great example of how amazing SRB is at writing sarcastic characters. However, I think the world-building was a little bit weak and I didn’t fully understand the society and why it ended up that way. I also felt that in the second half of the book, things went a bit downhill and the characters became less likeable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, though that’s more an issue with original source material, seeing as this is a retelling. I guess I just expected this retelling to have a different ending, a twist on the original, and was a little disappointed that it didn’t. The writing was great though and that’s what made me read until the end.
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I feel really bad that it took me so long to get through this but I was confused through nearly the entire book. I started over multiple times and couldn't shake the idea that this was the third or fourth book in a series and I was missing important information that I needed to know for everything to make sense. Sadly that wasn't the case and nothing ever connected the dots for me.

I came to find out that this was a tale of two cities retelling. But, I've never read that book and didn't know even the basic story line. Perhaps the author was thinking that readers would have that information and that was what I was missing for this book to make sense? 

I'm disappointed since I have heard very good things about this author. I'm going to try another story that is not a retelling and see if that is more up my alley.  

Thank you again for the egalley, but this wasn't for me.
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I have been putting this book off for a LONG time due to its mixed reviews. But I recently picked it up and I'm afraid that I'm on the Dark side. I would quite simply describe this book as standard- nothing more, nothing less. When I heard Tale of Two Cities retelling, I was quite excited but- alas- turns out that doesn't work as well as I was hoping. I'm starting to get annoyed with societies being split into two groups- as if real life is that simple. You're either one or the other. Yeah, right. The world would probably be a lot more harmonious if we all fit into either one box or the other. So that was something standard right off the bat. Also, the plot is just- you guessed it- standard. Things just happen one after the other. There is no suspense and something that compels me to read on. I was just there. The plot also didn't make a whole lot of sense. We had the doppelgänger, the Lucie and Ethan fighting, to running around eating cupcakes and all sorts. Like, what? 
Overall, there were some unique ideas in this story but they weren't exploited properly and the characters didn't make me want to invest too much time in this book so I just skimmed it.
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