ARC Review: Tell The Wind And Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

ARC Review: Tell The Wind And Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
Tell The Wind And Fire
by Sarah Rees Brennan

Genres: Dystopia, Retelling, Romance
Publication date: 05 April 2016
by Clarion Books

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

To be frank, this book was a colossal disappointment. I really tried, guys – but I gave up 60% into the book. I am a fan of Sarah Rees Brennan’s previous works such as The Demon’s Lexicon Trilogy and The Lynburn Legacy – she has always had a flair for writing compelling characters. However, the protagonists of Tell The Wind And Fire are cardboard cutouts – seemingly shipped straight from the Generic YA Dystopia 101 Handbook. Brennan’s comedic timing and classic wit is also absent in this novel. Instead, we are left with a whole lot of info-dump and a botched attempt at retelling a well known classic.

This book is set in a hackneyed dystopian world, with the quintessential concrete class divide. Instead of Districts or personality traits, we have a world segregated into Light and Dark magicians. The Light lives in luxury and opulence, while the Dark side is a barren home to dopplegangers and outcasts of society. I wish I was exaggerating, but the entirety of the world building in this book was done via info dump. Lucie, our protagonist, chooses to spend two entire chapters (!!) reflecting on her own backstory and the structure of the world she lives in. It was shoddy, lazy writing, and the world still remained underdeveloped despite this extended info dump.

Lucie’s world is frustratingly literal, with the Light being Good, and the Dark being bad, with some vaguely gray characters inbetween to mix up things a little. It toys at the age-old dilemma: is anything 100% good or bad? But come on, this is a YA book, not a freaking 12th century fairy tale – I don’t want my modern-day fiction to be so basic in its portrayal of moralities. Our society is complex – so quit it with splitting the world into two halves, YA dystopia!

Then there are the characters, who are so bland I had to look to Goodreads to find their names – they were long gone from the memory by the time I sat down to write this review. Lucie is a bit of a Katniss-lite, if Katniss liked to sit around and moon over her love interests instead of getting-shit-done. By the time the book began, Lucie has already achieved the most essential of all YA-Dystopia-Heroine traits: a pretty nickname & a media circus. She’s the Golden Thread in the Dark! She’s the hope of denizens of the Dark city! Everyone in the world is watching her! She’s so good at being on camera, you guys! Lord only knows why the camera is interested, since her narration for most of the book is pointless whining and pining.

Lucie is very passive, allowing the plot to push her along and have no agenda of her own – aside from ones which are firmly tied to her love interests. She spends the majority of the paper-thin plot trying to save her boyfriend, and deciding whether she can trust his doppleganger. The boys themselves are equally forgettable. There’s sweet Ethan and mysterious Carwyn, who serves as symbolism for the Light and Dark, respectively – yes, the metaphor is just as ham-handed and awkward in the book. Who will Lucie choose? Does anyone actually care when none of them have semblance of a personality? Characters are really no fun when they are there just to serve the plot or act out some sort of half-hearted moral lessons. I could not connect to a single one of these characters, so how can I be invested in their probably impending revolution?

The writing in this book was a huge let down, considering that I found Sarah Rees Brennan’s previous trilogies immensely entertaining. Gone are her captivating conversations and whip-fast banter. Instead, we have a lumbering plot that never quite finds its footing, accompanied by lacklustre proses that lulled me to sleep as I read. Perhaps she was attempting to emulate the writing in A Tale Of The Two Cities? Whatever it was, this book is atypically boring. I don’t usually pass judgements on books I DNF’d, but Tell The Wind and Fire made for such a laborious read – I feel justified in warning you all against it.

Rating Report
Overall: 1.3
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I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.


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  1. says

    I’ve heard similar sentiments about this novel from other readers as well which is upsetting because I loooved Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy as well as her Unspoken trilogy. I thought they were some of the most well-written and unique series out there in YA so I’m shocked that this isn’t in the same vein at all. Anyhow, I think I’ll be putting this on the back burner until the entire series is released and see if it’s worth reading as a whole but, probably, I’m just going to have to wait for Brennan’s next series following this one. Thanks for such a helpful and honest review, dear!
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  2. says

    I used to love dystopia novels but I feel like they all blur into each other now. There’s the special snowflake main character, more pining over love interests than action, a similar sort of world to other dystopias I’ve read previously etc. This was on my wishlist and I’ll still probably read it but only if my library gets it in. Great review! :)

  3. says

    Oh man, this sounds like a really boring read Aentee! I’m glad you say that you still liked her other books, I’ve had someone recommend the Lynburn Legacies to me but it’s a shame that this totally pales in comparison. The infodump sounds pretty terrible as is the boring, whiny heroine at the centre of everything. Thanks for the review, I’m glad you reviewed it despite the DNF!
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  4. says

    I see a lot of disappointed reviews on this book lately. Sorry to hear this book didn’t work for you, Aentee. I always have troubles with info-dumping too. And I’m so with you about such straightforward and basic portrayal of moralities. Give me ambiguity, give me complex gray characters instead. I don’t read a lot of books in this genre, but I guess I should read Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Lynburn Legacy instead of her latest book.
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  5. says

    Ugh, I feel you! I basically felt the exact same way, on all counts. I just didn’t CARE. The world was boring AND confusing, which… how is that even a thing? Very info-dumpy for sure. And Lucie was so BORING. When I was writing my review, I actually had NO IDEA what her name even was. I had to grab my Kindle and look it up, she was that yawn-inducing. And it didn’t get any better after 60%, I promise ;) There was just some really boring and underwhelming “revolution” or “rebellion” or whatever the dystopians are calling it these days ;) Sorry this was a mess for you too.
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