Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Book: Fire Country by David Estes

Book 1 of the Country Saga. I received a copy of Fire Country via a goodreads review request in exchange for my review.

The Heaters live in the desert, and when each girl turns 16 she becomes a bearer, to have a child every three years with her call. Siena is 15, and the daughter of the man who will shortly be Head Greynote and in charge of the whole tribe, but Siena has other ideas, she doesn't want to become a call for some random man in the village, in her daydreams she'd much rather her call was her best friend, Circ, though sharing him with any other Calls wouldn't be good. But other things are happening in the village, and Siena find out that innocent people are being framed for things they didn't do and placed in confinement for life. Plus there is the mysterious Wildes and Marked, tribes that are part legend, part threat, and a new spate of attacks from animals called Killers. Siena needs to discover if she is ready for the hardships ahead of her, and find out what is worth dying for.

Link to Goodreads
Link to amazon

Wow. I must say that I am incredibly impressed. Estes has managed to create a whole world, with detailed characters and realistic events and at the same time his writing is superb. I can't remember the last book that made me laugh and almost cry in the same chapter, not once but many times!

The humour in the book was mostly surrounding a cactus called Perry, and honestly, I never thought I would be writing a review including comments on a plant's character! But Perry was fantastic, his sarcastic comments, and Siena's replies had me laughing out loud at several parts of the book, regardless of the more serious events that surround it!

As to those serious events, the one that almost made me cry was really moving, and it is going to be really difficult to attempt to avoid spoilers, but I'll give it a go. About half way through the book, someone leaves Siena and she is really upset, but before the person in question does leave, they make a really sweet and heartfelt gesture, and that made me well up I must admit!!! That's all I can really say without spoiling I'm afraid!

The world in which Siena and the other characters live in is a particularly harsh one, and Estes has managed to create two detailed communities right down to how they survive in the heat. It is clearly a well thought up environment, and added to that the dystopia itself, in the form of the Heaters village, is again, well thought up, the rules are realistic, but not beyond the technology that the Heaters have. This isn't a dystopia as in 'we're watching every moment' because that would be unrealistic in this setting, more Fire Country is a dystopia in the sense that women are particularly controlled and put down, and speaking up against authority is severely punished.

I really liked Siena as a character, she felt complex and very real. She had real female insecurities, like was she pretty enough or was she too skinny, basically she had thoughts that were all too often ignored when it comes to this genre. But at the same time as Siena was being a proper girl, there was a definite sense of action and of the storyline progressing, showing that Estes knows how to write a balanced story.

I know that I don't give ratings on my blog, though I do on goodreads and amazon, but I was very very tempted to give this book my first ever 5, but if I do then there's no room for improvement in the rest of Estes books, which are definitely heading straight for the TBR pile!