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.

The Lynburn Legacy series, by Sarah Rees Brennan

In one of those cases of odd internet synchronicity, I have seen many unrelated people on the internet talking lately about the similarity between YA fiction as currently constituted and the three-volume novels of the Victorian era. And can I just say, I am FOR THIS. I’d have been for it if I’d lived in Victorian times, and I am for it now. I have formerly griped about how everything in YA is trilogies, but I have now decided to withdraw that complaint and substitute a life policy of not starting unfinished YA trilogies, and I think that will solve the whole problem. If you can get all three of the volumes out of the library at once, and tear through them like a bullet train, YA fantasy trilogies are kiiiiinda the best.

Here’s my theory: Not all fiction (be it comics, YA fantasy, television shows, whatever) benefits by anticipation between installments. Some things are just better suited to bingeing. Sometimes, when you are reading something for the first time, it’s better not to have too much time to contemplate plot matters and form theories about What It All Means, because sometimes, that is not the kind of comic/book/television show the creators are creating. They do not always (or even often) have a complicated end-game with symbols and foreshadowing (ahem, Lost).

And if that is the case, and if you have years to think about it, you are that much more likely to get cross when the last book comes out and all your hopes and dreams are not realized. Better to HAVE NONE because you only became acquainted with these characters in the first place two days ago because you are binge-reading. Moreover, it is tremendously fun to read three fast, well-plotted stories back to back to back.

Exhibit A in my emerging viewpoint re: YA trilogies was the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black. (Well, okay, I did not review those books here, because I read them around Christmas last year, and I got too busy for reviews. Trust me, I enjoyed the hell out of these books.) Exhibit B is The Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan, of which Unspoken is the first, recommended to me most recently by the marvelous Renay.

1. The heroine is an intrepid girl reporter, and she solves her own problems. She also cannot leave things alone, because she is determined to Get Answers. At one point her love interest says he thought she’d rather have a weapon than a rescue, and she is impressed that he knows her so well.

2. The hero is brooding and tortured, and the heroine is more like “This sucks for me” than she is like “swoon”. But she is also sort of like “swoon”, and let’s face it, that is fun for all of us.

3. There are plenty of fun subsidiary characters, some of whom DIE HORRIBLY, so don’t get attached to anybody, because Sarah Rees Brennan might have them DIE HORRIBLY when you weren’t expecting it. Always so fun when you are binge-reading/binge-watching. Sometimes when I am frustrated with The Vampire Diaries, it can bring me right back by killing someone with sudden violence.

Huzzah for YA trilogies! Long live the YA trilogy! You may argue that there are a lot of crappy ones, but there are always a dozen crappy [any category of things ever] for every one good one, so that is just life and we must learn to deal with that.