Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Tell the Wind and Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: 2016
Source: Netgalley

Summary: In this paranormal retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, New York City is divided between the Dark and the Light magic wielders. The Dark side is shackled and boundaried, and the Light rules.

Lucie is that rarest of rare, a Dark-sider who escaped to the Light. She's famous for it, in fact, the half-Light, half-Dark girl who escaped the Dark and now lives in the Light side of town, dating Ethan, the shining son of the mayor. But as she fights to hold onto her sheltered life on the light and Ethan, the boy she loves, she's drawn to his Dark doppelganger, Carwyn.

First Impressions: I liked Carwyn much more than Ethan. I loved how snarky and mean Lucie became with him. The end made me cry.

Later On: I always like retellings of classics, mostly because it's very fun to see how the themes and characters gets filtered through a modern lens. This is one of my first experiences with reading the retelling without having actually read the original. As such, the ending knocked me for a loop. Can you call it a spoiler when just about everyone knows that Sydney Carton died in the original? But because I wasn't paying attention to the details and callbacks, I was surprised and disappointed when it went there.

When I say I liked how snarky and mean Lucie got with him, this isn't because I like mean girls. More, it was because the self that Lucie was when she was with Carwyn felt more honest. With Ethan, and by extension, with all of the Light side, I had the sense that Lucie was putting on a big show of how very, very Light side she was. With Carwyn, she didn't have to pretend that the Dark side of herself didn't exist. I didn't have a whole lot of faith that Lucie would be able to hold on to this honesty of self without Carwyn around to remind her. Maybe she will, though.

Overall, this was a wonderful book, full of meditations on the nature of fame and public perception and how meaningless labels can be, but the ending works less well for me the farther I get from the actual experience of reading it.

More: Why Did I Do That Thing I Did in Tell the Wind and Fire? by Sarah Rees Brennan (spoilers for other of her books, so read carefully)


Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I was NOT expecting to like this book as much as I did. But I liked it a lot -- it explored themes about symbolism and public faces vs private opinions that are super interesting to me, and I liked it that the author didn't back away from the really dark consequences of the world she'd set up. It almost (but not quite) made me want to read Tale of Two Cities. (I am not a Dickens gal.)

Maureen E said...

Finished this one this weekend, and I felt like the set up was great but the ending fell apart a bit. It's also the place where I felt she was most constrained by the original, so maybe that's part of it?