POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Random House)
Number of Pages: 464
Narrators: Laia and Elias
Quality Rating: 87.98

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

What’s It About?

Laia is a “Scholar,” the oppressed class in a world divided between masters and slaves. When the remainder of her family is slain by her oppressors and her one remaining brother is taken captive, she goes out in search of the only people she believes can help–The Resistance. This ruthless band of rebels agrees to help free her brother with one condition: she must become a spy for them. Secretly working for the Resistance, Laia must become a personal servant of the most feared woman in existence–the cruel and merciless commander of the oppressive regime that slaughtered her family.

Meanwhile, Elias is graduating from the military academy to become a “Mask,” the murderous infantry of the ruling class that oppresses, exploits, harasses the slaves of the land. Elias hates the violence and despairs over the blood which will inevitably fall on his hands. Not only is he destined to become the very thing he despises, but he also has the misfortune of being the son of a mother who hates him–the commander of the army. Despite risking torture and execution, he plans to desert the empire before they can make him a muderer.

Just as he is about the leave, he is persuaded to stay by an Augur–the empire’s class of wisemen, in order to fulfill an obscure destiny. Shortly after deciding to remain, Elias and several of his classmates are selected to perform in the Trials–a prophesied and long awaited event whose victor becomes the next emperor and losers are promptly executed. As the Trials begin and Elias’s world becomes interwoven with Laia’s, both characters must fight to overcome their bleak circumstances and attain their own forms of freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy darker young adult, dystopian fantasy, you will probably love this book. It’s a lot like Red Queen and The Fire Sermon in terms of class divisions, but the divisions are less on genetic lines and more simply on political lines. Although there is a vague semblance of a love triangle, the attraction between characters is less composed of flighty romance and more composed of shared identity and purpose. The story is told in alternating narration between the two protagonists–giving the reader insight into what it’s like to be both the oppressor and the oppressed. Themes include the interplays of betrayal and friendship, slavery and freedom, cruelty and mercy, and death and survival. While classified as YA, the realities of an oppressive regime are not hidden–and the resulting tone is somewhat dismal. And, while there are certainly dystopian and fantasy elements, the writing is layered and somewhat complex–so it would also be appealing to those interested in more literary works. If this sounds appealing to you, I would definitely pick this book up.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Redeye Chicago

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes is Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel.

Book Review: Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

Author: Lori Goldstein
Title: Becoming Jinn
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Azra Nadira

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

What’s It About?

Azra Nadira has just turned sixteen and, as is the custom set by the governing council of Jinn, she receives her powers as a genie. Although she begins to gain magical powers such as the abilities to teleport and conjure things into existence, she is resistant to the change because she knows it means she will eventually become a slave to another’s wishes.

Along with gaining magical powers, Azra’s sixteenth birthday blesses her instantly with stunning beauty. As such, she gains the sudden interest of the coolest guy in school. While she enjoys the new feeling of being desired, she is torn between this new love interest and that of a childhood friend. This love triangle forms much of the conflict throughout the story.

Most of the story, however, focuses on the relationship between Azra, her mother, and her mother’s Jinn friends–known to Azra as “the sisters.” This group of ladies guides Azra into understanding her powers and her place as a young woman in the world of Jinn.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the newer genre of young adult genie literature, you’ll probably enjoy this–as the author goes to great lengths to describe and develop the rules of the world Azra inhabits. That being said, if you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns, this probably isn’t for you. I would describe the story as relationship-driven rather than plot-driven. It’s more or less a teenage “chick lit” story set in a world of genies. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dark Faerie Tales, Snuggly Oranges, Fiction Fare

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lori Goldstein: Becoming Jinn is Lori Goldstein’s debut novel.

Book Review: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill

Author: Ellie O’Neill
Title: Reluctantly Charmed
Genre: Literary, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
Number of Pages: 416
Narrator: Kate McDaid
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: I, Insufficient data; there are not enough ratings to accurately gauge the average reader rating.

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill

What’s It About?

Kate McDaid, a 26 year old copywriter located in Dublin, Ireland, tells the story of how her world is turned upside down when she is called in to read the will of her deceased distant relative (who is also named Kate McDaid). Kate isn’t told how much the estate is worth but, in order to receive it, she must agree to publishing a series of poems each week under her own name. The mystery intrigues her, and she agrees to do it.

To publish her poems, Kate uses an old website of a musician with whom she is somewhat romantically involved. The poems are filled with imagery about Irish folklore and imply that fairies may actually exist. Unexpectedly, the poems go viral. Fans of the musician discuss it on online forums, a journalist covers the story in a prestigious paper, and Kate is skyrocketed to the limelight.

As the story proceeds, Kate must juggle her attempts to advance in her career with the development of a potential love interest and her newfound fame (and infamy) as what many begin to perceive as a modern day witch. All the while, Kate digs deeper into her heritage in an attempt to understand herself and her place in a modern world that has lost its touch with magic.

Should You Read It?

If you’re looking for a straight-fantasy novel, this probably isn’t for you. The presence of fairies and the realm of magic are alluded to and yearned for, but they aren’t explicitly there. The work is more literary in nature–a story about a young woman attempting to discover her heritage while at the same time integrating it into modern life. The voice of Kate is very witty and light. The novel draws deeply on Irish folklore, as well as how the country has evolved into modern day. If you’re looking for a book about self-discovery containing a strong sense of place–with a small touch of fantasy and romance–you might enjoy this one.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Confessions of a Book Addict

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by Ellie O’Neill: Reluctantly Charmed is Ellie O’Neill’s debut novel.

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Title: Red Queen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 400
Narrator: Mare Barrow
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B+, Very Good; of the first 464 reviews, the average reader rating was 88.53%.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What’s It About?

Protagonist Mare Barrow is a seemingly insignificant teenage girl living in a future world divided into two races. Mare and her family are “Reds,” the commoners of society characterized by their red blood. Ruling over her class are the “Silvers,” characterized by their silver blood. In addition to the color of their blood, the Silvers are distinguished from the Reds in that they possess supernatural abilities such as superior strength and power over the elements.

The Reds who are fortunate enough to learn a trade use their skills to enter into a career of service. Those who possess no craft, however, must enter the military and be sent to the front lines to die in the Silvers’ war.

Mare possesses no skill and believes she is destined to become another casualty of the Silvers’ war. Fate intervenes, however, and a prince from the Silver royal family takes pity on her. The prince, who becomes a mild love interest, hires her as a servant in the kingdom. As she enters into the world of the Silvers, however, she discovers that–even though her blood is red–she possesses a superhuman gift of her own.

To keep the peace between the races, Mare is forced to pretend she is a lost princess returned to the kingdom. Walking the line between becoming a Silver and remaining a Red, Mare struggles with her identity. As rumors of rebellion begin to circulate, she must decide who’s side she is on–and who she can trust to be on that side with her.

Should You Read It?

If you’re a fan of the young adult dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Divergent, you’ll love this book. The themes of class distinction and rebellion are strong undercurrents. If you’re into paranormal romance stories like Twilight, you may also enjoy Red Queen–although the romance is very light and the story has more to do with Mare’s struggle with her identify than it does with her love life. The writing style is fast-paced and to-the-point, with plenty of plot twists and teasers closing nearly every chapter. If all this sounds up your alley, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Epic Reads (Publisher)

Book Reviews: USA Today, Kirkus Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by Victoria Aveyard: Red Queen is Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel.