Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
The Skinny: This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear. Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe. What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected. – From Goodreads
BFF?: I truly didn’t like Lily. Maybe she had some good moments, but I just found her to be… annoying. You just got transported to a different world and you’re being sarcastic/mean/antagonizing with the natives? C’mon… I just didn’t buy that. And her sense of humor was a little off-putting. Then she was one of those vegan save the whales wanna be hipster kind of kids and while that’s fine and good it didn’t feel very genuine and was, at times, annoying. Again, you’re in a different world and you’re harassing the natives because they enjoy chicken? No. All that being said I felt towards the end she became more tolerable. I think she finally got over herself and started to see just how valuable she had become in this new world and to its people. As I’ve pondered over my feelings about Lily I’ve started to realize she reminds me of one of my FAVORITE characters, Meagan from The Iron King series. She started out pretty bad to me but eventually I found myself really loving her and cheering her own. I think by the time this series really gets going I’m going to be a Lily fan.
Readability: Okay, Josephine Angelini’s books are not the best written ones but there is something that sucks you in so deep that I honestly stopped caring about the writing. And while I don’t always appreciate story over writing, I really did here. I found myself being a little confused by all the science stuff and trying to wrap my head around this brand new but really familiar world, but otherwise enjoyed how this one read.
Crush Level: 5.648
Rowan was.. er… difficult. First off, I couldn’t get a good visual and kept seeing him as a generic hunk. Secondly, he was kind of a jerk, super hard. a little cruel… But I feel like we got to see past that from early on so even though he had moments where he was a little unbearable, it didn’t make me hate him. I dunno… he wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t get that swoony over him but I imagine he was pretty nice to look at. Hence him getting at least a 5. The .648 comes from him maybe potentially being a nice guy.
There are these things called the Woven and are basically genetic experiments gone wrong. In search of a better animal that could help society, these mutated animals were accidentally created and pretty much run wild in certain areas of this new world. While I like finding little similarities to books in different books, this was almost a little too close to The Hunger Games for comfort.
Anti Bonus Point
In this new world nudity is no big deal. Like people aren’t modest and whatnot. Not like everyone goes around naked or whatever, but it’s just not as taboo as it is in our world. So there’s this one scene – and it’s not spoilery – where they’re doing some witchcraft and Lily is told to take off her robe and she’s all “But I don’t have clothes on under here!” and the others are like “No worries, we don’t have any clothes on under our robes too!” and then it gets all… well, read the book. It reminded me of the scene in Zoolander where they have the drug induced orgy.
Commencement Speech: I have no idea how to even begin this part of the review. There’s not much to say about Trial by Fire that I haven’t already said. I had a lot of difficulty with this one, not so much as far as enjoying it but more just trying to wrap my head around everything. It quickly became information overload. However, I don’t mean that it was a giant info dump. It was more that it dealt with ideas that I wasn’t really knowledgeable on, such as different scientific things, and felt that since I didn’t get those I didn’t understand other things the book discussed. Witchcraft is such a hard thing, I think, to write about because there seems to be so many “rules” to it. You have to stay balanced, everything comes with a price, you have to give up something… So sometimes I think it’s easy to get bogged down by it. And when you throw in science backing up witchcraft? <throws hands in the air> <makes pfft sound>
Not quite understanding some things aside I feel that this was a unique attempt at combining several different genres and giving us something that hasn’t really been seen before. A world where they know about genetic engineering and nuclear energy but still use bows and arrows and ride horses? Tell me more? While this book was kind of long, I feel like it merely scratched the surface of the whole story and set us up for some future craziness that I’m pretty excited for.
Yearbook Quote: None! ARC!
Superlatives – Most likely to be confusing to an AP Chemistry student
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