Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on August 25, 2014 | 7 Comments

Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTrial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends (9.2.2014)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC, 384 pages
Source: NetGalley

2.5 Stars

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.

My thoughts

Oh jeez, this book is going to be very hard to rate. As you can see from my Overall Assessment breakdown, I was very torn on ratings. While the idea, the plot, the world, and the originality were great; the writing style, characters, and feels were not so great. Pretty bad, in fact. In the beginning the book mostly just annoyed me (sometimes straight ticked me off), but it did get better toward the end.

My main issue was that I don’t like the writing style at all. I found it very sophomoric and it grated on my nerves. Which is probably why I DNF’ed Angelini’s other book, Starcrossed. Some of the interactions and phrases used, especially toward the beginning, were downright ridiculous. Terms like “before he rode the testosterone rocket to studliness,” “cockamamie,” “hullabaloo,” and there was a dude nicknamed “Breakfast.” And this:

“Did you sleep at all?”
“No. […] My butt did, though. Slept like a log all night.”
“Well, obviously your butt has more sense than you do.”
“You’re a funny man, Rowan whatever-your-last-name-is.”
“I’d rather not.”

not amused

And this:

“Potatoes are a nightshade. They are poison for her until she learns how to transmute their alkaloids into power.” […] She’d always thought potatoes were so bland that they couldn’t possibly cause a reaction, only to find that an hour or so later, she was burning with fever.

Um, what? Potatoes are poisonous – you learn something new every day! *rolls eyes*

“You haven’t learned how to safely process all the different agents in the air and in your food.”

I mean, maybe it could have been a good idea, but it just didn’t work. Oh, and did I mention that Rowan actually uses his piss for uric acid to replace ammonia and peroxide in Lily’s hair dye? Yep, seriously.

Lily annoyed the crap out of me. I do have to say that she got better as the story progressed, but in the beginning I wanted to punch her. One major example: Lily went to a party with Tristan, and Tristan left her for another chick. While alone, one of the dudes at the party offered Lily a drink. Because she doesn’t drink, she took a water bottle instead. The water got spilled, so the dude went to get her another. He came back with a glass of “bubbly red juice,” claiming that there was no water left. First of all, what post-apocalyptic world did we land in that doesn’t have tap water? Did we get transported to the Not a Drop to Drink landscape?! Second of all, how can a 17-year-old be THAT naive? You’re seriously going to accept an unidentified drink at a party from a guy? How dumb are you?! Maybe I was just a smart 17-year-old…

Rowan massages Lily’s thighs to get circulation back in them, then she freaks out:

“We don’t get naked in front of each other, we don’t share boy-girl tents, and we don’t go massaging each other’s groins.”

Boy-girl tents? How old are you? And literally right before that she was thinking, […] trying to ignore how good his hands felt. He certainly seemed to know how to massage thighs.

There was something intensely intimate about the thought of bathing in Rowan’s scent, and Lily felt suddenly embarrassed.

Because he put his f*cking fingers in her bathwater. Really.

“She’s a power-hungry bitch who wants to rule the world with an iron fist.”
Rowan rolled his eyes. “She’s much more than that.”
Lily wondered why Rowan would defend Lillian if he wouldn’t defend her. Her throat stung.

Ugh, are you 12? That could have meant anything.

Also, her holier-than-thou mentality about her beliefs seriously grated on my nerves. She was very arrogant about the fact that she didn’t eat meat and was anti-nuclear-energy and overall environmental, looking down on those who thought otherwise. She even stated at one point that she has a shirt that says “I’m vegan. And yes, that does make me better than you.” Really? In the same subject, expanding on the whole ridiculous interactions complaint:

[Lily] “I stopped eating [meat] years ago.”
“To make up for the sins of everyone else in your world?” Rowan snapped, an eyebrow raised in derision. “Or do you just do it to prove that you’re superior?”
“I do it because I believe it’s wrong,” Lily said, standing up and facing Rowan over the fire. He jumped to his feet and met her eyes, his body straining toward her like he wanted to launch himself over the flame and shake her.
“And would you force that belief on everyone else?” he yelled back. “Even if not eating meat made them sick? Even if it made you sick?”

Why are you yelling?! *insert ‘calm your tits’ face*

Sadly I didn’t care about any of the characters. I actually disliked Lily, but Rowan, Tristan, and Caleb were just there. They didn’t have much dimension to speak of, and I couldn’t connect to any of them. The characters didn’t feel real to me.

Despite all that, I did mostly enjoy it toward the end, and the world was what kept me going. The only gripe I have about the world building is that some of the terms weren’t explained. I eventually picked up that “drubs” was a derogatory term for the Outlanders, but why? Where did it originate from? What does it mean? I never quite understood the structure of the Coven, the Citadel, or the Thirteen Cities. Their background was never explained, so they just appeared as a big mysterious entity in my head. I would have liked to have seen much more detail about those things.

Gideon hated riding the damn [horses], and growing up in the city like a civilized person he’d rarely had a reason to. He much preferred his luxury elepod, or even one of the trains that connected the Thirteen Cities underground, but unfortunately electric vehicles were nearly useless in the woods, and the whole idea of above ground trains had been abandoned when the Woven were accidentally brought into being.

Why? I’m guessing because the Woven attacked the trains or something? But in that case I’d argue that wolves and bears don’t attack trains, so out of self-preservation you’d think the Woven wouldn’t either because a moving train would crush them. A short explanation would have been nice – just a short “because ‘blah blah blah'” tacked onto the end of that sentence would have helped tremendously.

Other than that, I do have to say that the world in general was awesome! That was definitely the selling point of this book, and the only thing that makes it stand out. While I will easily forget all of the characters, the idea of it will stick with me! I really loved the idea of the willstones, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I have to admit there were a lot of great ideas in this book. The willstones was the most impressive to me, but I also found it very interesting how Lillian’s world made Woven instead of machines like our/Lily’s world, but the end result was still the same: Their creation backfired because they ended up taking over the world. Very cool!

And while it didn’t always make sense, the witch=crucible part was interesting, too: They were able to make chemical reactions in their bodies. Witchcraft replaced science. Oh, and did I mention water and health care are free in this world? Nice.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of this book in the beginning, it did hook me toward the end and I’m very curious to see where this series goes!

Overall Assessment

Plot: 4/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 2/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 1/5
World-building: 3.5/5
Pace: 3.5/5
Feels: 1/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5

Jessi (Geo)

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7 responses to “Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

  1. You guys are all killing me with these reviews for this book!!! I have it to read and it’s so mixed. Most of the people I really follow to tell me how a book is doesn’t like it and it’s making me very nervous Lol. I might put it down my list a little further and hope when i get to it I’m in the mood for a possible 2 star read :)

    Great review!!!

  2. Agreed, agreed, agreed with EVERYTHING in your review. Josephine Angelini’s writing style drives me crazy and the “humor” in Trial by Fire was just…what?

  3. I tried this one and ended up DNFing it. I just could not get into it at all and basically every character was annoying and I realized I didn’t care what happened. Glad it got a bit better, but probably not worth picking it up again.

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