Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Clarion Books

Published: April 2016

Pages: 368


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 of the deadly connection the young men share, 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?

My Thoughts…

I really enjoyed reading this book! I loved how the author managed to tackle serious themes like equality, minority rights and social change by seamlessly including them in a fantasy retelling of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (which I really want to read now, btw).

At first, I struggled a bit to connect with Lucie as a character. I guess I just couldn’t figure her out. Which in the end, I realised, was exactly the right reaction for me to have. Lucie is a girl who has witnessed so much darkness in her life, that it has marked her forever, even if she eventually manages to move to the Light part of the city, which is where all the wealthiest and most powerful people live. But even though she is relatively secure in her new status, Lucie knows everything could be taken from her in the blink of an eye, and she and everyone she loves would be back in the Dark – or worse. This constant conflict between the Lucie who has suffered and clings onto her safety, and the one who doesn’t forget her humanity and fights until the end for those she loves, was what made it difficult for me to completely understand her at first, and also what made me love her so much as a character by the end of the book.

“Tell the wind and fire where to stop. But don’t tell me”

Several things happen throughout the book, including numerous murders, abductions and a revolution, so I guess you could focus on the action-y part of the story and get lost in it, and that would be perfectly fine. It’s a good storyline, with enough action and suspense to keep you glued to the pages. But, for me, this book was about a lot more than just its plot. It was a delicate-yet-gut-wrenching critique of society, of just how easy it is sometimes to get lost in propaganda, to unload all the world’s troubles on a single group, forgetting our common status as humans.

This book definitely gave me a lot to think about, both through the storyline and through the individual characters. Lucie is definitely the one that will stick with me the most, because she is probably the one that most represents all of us throughout her development: moving from blind acceptance because she fears losing everything she has worked for up to her fierce determination in fighting an unjust system to protect her loved ones and the weakest who have no one else to fight for them, Lucie is a remarkable example of character development.

“People will come up with a hundred reasons why other people do not count as human, but that does not mean anyone has to listen.”

Definitely a highly recommended book, and one I will gladly re-read as soon as I get a chance!

Rating: 4.5/5


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