Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Firespell: HBIC Review from Emily @ What Book is That?

Title: Firespell
Author: Chloe Neill
Page Count: 246 pages
Publisher: Signet
Genre: urban fantasy, young adult
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less: Lily Parker thinks spending her last two years of high school at fancy-dancy St. Sophia's School for Girls is going to be pure boredom, start to finish. She could not possibly have been more wrong.

I've gone on record here saying how much I love Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series- the wit, the sarcasm, the characters, the unique take on a pretty well traveled narrative path. I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed Firespell as well and am excited to see how this series (the Dark Elite) plays out.

Lily is a really likeable character with an enjoyable perspective. There's no sign of any Bella Swan Syndrome here; Lily makes the best of any situation and isn't afraid to stick up for herself or for the people she cares about. Her conversations with Scout, her roommate, best friend, and partner in shenanigans, are extremely funny and well done. One facet of this book that's done really well is the way the teenagers interact with each other. Oftentimes in young adult books the dialogue and slang will seem forced or overdone; that's not the case here, which only added to my enjoyment of the story. Case and point, a segment from that most treacherous of passages, the infodump, wherein the characters are explaining the supernatural goings-on at St. Sophia's to Lily:
"Anyway," Scout said, "the power usually appears around puberty. At the beginning of the transition to adulthood."

"Boobs and earthquakes?" I asked. "That's quite a change."

"Seriously," she agreed with a nod. "It's pretty freaky. You wake up one morning and boom- you're sporting B cups and the mystical ability to manipulate matter or cast spells or battle Reapers for dominion over Chicago. Gossip Girl has nothing on us."

The power they are referring to is the cause of the conflict between the good guys and the bad guys here, and there are a pretty unique set of circumstances surrounding it that get just enough explanation to be interesting but not so much that the story gets bogged down. There's also a love interest for Lily that was just picking up steam at the end of the book, leaving plenty of unfinished business for the next installment.

Oh, and Lily has some totally kickass powers too. As Lily learns about the supernatural battles being waged in Chicago and her role in the struggle, she handles everything with remarkable aplomb. Nothing turns me off faster than pages and pages and pages of "this can't be happening!" Lily can definitely handle herself in a tough situation.

That brings me to one of the most enjoyable things about this novel. All too often, the heroine of a story is basically a null, with no personality or unique qualities that set her apart from the rest of the stable of protagonists out there. Lily isn't brooding or angsty or desperate to fit in with people who obviously could not care less about her. She's not cripplingly shy or socially inept or blindly following the crowd. Instead, Lily is her own person, knows her own mind, and wants only genuine friendship and relationships. It's definitely refreshing.

Overall Grade: A
Blog with Bite Grade: 4/4


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