The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig

I was given the honour of interviewing Francesca a few months ago but we mainly focused on her poetry which is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend you check out. Anyway, she used to be a senior lecturer at the University of Chester until she wrote her first YA dystopian novel ‘The Fire Sermon’! It was from meeting her and the fact that she used to teach at my university (I wish she still did) which encouraged me to pick up her book but that did mean I went in with high expectations!

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire and the effects of the radiation have caused every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way and seen as superior in society – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large and branded as the lesser human. However, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality.

I found the concept of having an Alpha and Omega with the lifeline connection really interesting and made the plot and the relationship between characters more complex. As for Cass, I loved her relationship and constant fight with her brother but I wasn’t a fan of her and didn’t really see much character development, but hopefully, there will be more in the second book. I wasn’t much of a fan of the relationship between Cass and Kip either, just because I felt it was a bit forced and wasn’t very swoon worthy, nevertheless, they helped each other in numerous ways but I think they should have just stayed friends.

I’m in love with Haig’s writing which is just beautiful and I’m glad we get to see her gift of creating obscure but realistic and unique metaphors in her prose. When reading I picked up on a McCarthy ‘The Road’ vibe and influence because this world is dark but Haig portrays it in such a wonderful way with enough information to outline a scene but still leaving a few elements for our imagination to discover and create. If I’m being picky, I felt there were a couple of times where she could have shortened the prose as sometimes it dragged on and I reckon they would have been more effective if they were shorter.

The ending. Did I see it coming, well not all of it! I had a bit of an inkling at the beginning of the book but I dismissed the idea because it didn’t seem plausibleĀ but Haig cleverly made it work and left me in awe at the end of the first book, so much so I went and picked up the second book as soon as I finished; I’m now addicted to this series and these characters. When reading other reviews, many have commented on how everything just wraps up and the fact that we are given all the answers which I agree does ruin it a bit but I can guarantee that it by no means is it a dull ending.

All in all, this series has potential and I can’t wait to jump into the second book and I’m happy to give it 4/5 stars. If you’re looking for a unique dystopian novel then this one is just for you, as it’s got a really interesting storyline and character relationships that will hopefully keep you hooked.

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