Tell the Wind and Fire, Sarah Rees Brennan

Note: I received Tell the Wind and Fire from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Okay, despite having shared that article about how people should stop hating so much on YA love triangles, I am slightly over YA love triangles, not because there aren’t authors who can write them well, but because YA authors who can’t write them well insist on writing them anyway. So to read a book like Tell the Wind and Fire, which is about a girl and two physically identical dudes, and which specifically and deliberately steers away from love triangling, made a refreshing change.

Tell the Wind and Fire

Lucie Manette has won her way over to the Light side of her city through a combination of luck and judicious manipulation of her own public image. Now she has a wealthy and influential Light boyfriend and things seem to be going her way (as long as she doesn’t think too much about those she left “buried” in the Dark side of the city). But everything changes when her boyfriend Ethan avoids arrest only by the intervention of a Dark doppelganger called Carwyn–someone Lucie never knew existed. If you have read A Tale of Two Cities you can basically predict how this all turns out.1

Because I do not like Dickens,2 I wasn’t expecting much from Tell the Wind and Fire. I was delighted to find that it is a kind of book I particularly love, which is the kind where the protagonist is trying to be a good person in a world where the only choices available to them are bad. Toss in themes of public perception, its power and lability, and its contrast with true reality, and you’ve got Gin Jenny catnip.

actual footage of my reading experience

Thus! If you are on the hunt for a dark-but-fun page-turner about good people who are trying their best, or just a YA novel where a girl can have two boys in her life without falling into an abyss of indecision about which one to kiss, may I point you toward Tell the Wind and Fire?

Where are y’all on love triangles these days? In, out, in but need a break, out but you’ll make exceptions?

  1. I have not but I read the end.
  2. I have tried: I love A Christmas Carol but I hated Oliver Twist (twice) and the first third-to-half of both Great Expectations nor Bleak House, and at some point I shouldn’t have to keep trying.
  • I feel pretty much over YA triangles *in theory* but if they have a different twist or are well-done, yes I would make exceptions.

    • ME TOO, I think that’s where I’m at too. I’ve had enough of them, notionally, because it seems like they are often in there to create drama and that’s boring because it’s easy. If an author can do it well and interestingly, I could still be in.

  • Jeanne

    I think I am over YA, for the most part. When you talk about a character trying to be good in a world where all the choices are bad, I think that Anne Rice did that best in the first Vampire Lestat novel (1985), where he awakes as a vampire and has a crisis because now does he have to be evil? He tries not to be, but this was before the era of sparkly vamps where there is no downside to being a supernatural creature.

    • Yeah? Completely? No more YA for you whatsoever?

      You know, I read The Vampire Lestat and I believe I quite liked it, but it was so long ago and Anne Rice has irritated me as a person on so many occasions since then, I can’t even remember her books in a positive light. I think of them and then I think “ugh, Anne Rice.” It’s not really fair!

  • Geranium Cat

    Hi Jenny! Love the reading experience footage. My reading of Jodi Taylor’s books is like that 🙂

  • Amanda

    I am over love triangles so I really liked that this book was clearly without. Did you think it was setting up a series too? I was shocked when I saw later that this was a standalone. I haven’t read A Tale of Two Cities – but I adored Great Expectations when I read it as an adult. It’s on my list to try someday.

    • Did I? No, never occurred to me! Which was kind of nice — like I so rarely encounter a one-and-done YA fantasy novel these days, it was cool to be able to read this and feel finished. Would still read more books set in this world, though, if the author were ever so inclined.

  • Kailana

    I am so over love triangles. I put down books if they are even mentioned. I can’t help it. It was just everywhere and got overdone.

    • That’s more than fair! After Twilight came out, I was for quite some time completely done with vampires. Even now, I’m a little gunshy of them — it’s not that I’m angry at Stephenie Meyer, so much as it’s a case of overexposure. When you have an infinity supply of something, the thing stops being fun. Alas!

  • Read Diverse Books

    Yep, much like everyone else I am so over love triangles. Sometimes they just feel tacked on and unnecessary, so I’m glad not every YA books has them. When two dudes are physically identical, it must be so difficult as an author not to entangle them in a love triangle with the female protagonist. I need to know how Sarah Rees Brennan resisted that irresistible urge.

    • Magic, I guess! Her series The Lynburn Legacy didn’t not have a love triangle EXACTLY, but it was at least, like, pretty obvious what the girl wanted to choose. She wasn’t just sort of waffling back and forth between two love interests, which I thiiiiink is the thing that gets everyone’s goat with its insane ubiquity in YA fiction.

  • Alley

    I am impressed Brennan did not shove a love triangle in here cos I AM TIRED OF THOSE and I haven’t even read many (though it was still too many).

    I also am not a fan of Dickens (except for a Christmas Carol, which is a delight). I keep trying but it has not worked

  • I loved how Brennan reworked A Tale of Two Cities (I haven’t read a lot of Dickens, but ATOTC is one of my faves by him) The different kind of heroine and the lack of a love triangle was so refreshing about this story too. I’m glad you loved this one!

  • Love the puppy! I don’t mind love triangles, as long as the writing, and thereby characterization, resonates with me. I have yet to tackle a Dickens beyond The Pickwick Papers.I can imagine my opinion might mirror yours. 🙂

  • Kim Aippersbach

    I picked this one up at the library two weeks ago because I loved The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, but I haven’t started reading it yet because I was disappointed in The Lynburn Legacy series so now I’m scared I don’t like Brennan any more. Your puppy gif has won me over! (And the lack of a triangle, and the fact that it’s a standalone, all points in its favour.)

  • This sounds so good! And I’m definitely out on love triangles. It drives me crazy when the person two people are interested in doesn’t just make up their damn mind!

  • Nishita

    Ooh! I actually loved A Tale of Two Cities, but I generally love anything dealing with the French Revolution timeframe, And I am definitely up for a spin off on that plot. Putting this on my TBR, although I still have The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy sitting unread on my shelf.

  • Love triangles are funny for me to read – sometimes they don’t bother me; sometimes they make me wish the characters would just realize that monogamy is not necessarily the only option 😛

  • I was over love triangles a while ago; at this point, I’m almost over romantic subplots in general. As I get older, I require a lot more complication besides characters’ tingly feelings before I find a romance compelling. It’s one of the only things that turns me off YA a bit, that there’s almost always a strong romantic thread, whether there needs to be or not.