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Fate of Flames (The Effigies) Hardcover – November 22, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In an indeterminate future city, large, energy-emitting needles protect cities from phantoms, mystical monsters bent on destruction. Because the needles work so well, phantom attacks are virtually nonexistent in the major cities. But when the needles fail and the creatures attack, the last line of defense is four Effigies, girls with elemental powers that can defeat the monsters. Seventeen-year-old Maia is an Effigy fangirl, and when an Effigy dies, Maia becomes her replacement. With phantom attacks only recently popping up everywhere and protection technology failing, the superpowered teens will need to figure out what's going on and who seems to be controlling the phantoms. But first they will have to learn to get along and work together. Romance does not overwhelm the action of this tale as it does in other paranormal series. Maia is realistically timid and self-conscious; intellectually she knows what to do, but acting on it isn't so easy. Unfortunately, the setting is ambiguous and rapidly changing, and weak world-building leaves unanswered questions about what the phantoms are, where they came from, and why they exist at all. VERDICT This thrilling novel is full of superhero girls with ninja-warrior powers, so despite its flaws, it may still be popular with fans of Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments" books and Naoko Takeuchi's "Sailor Moon" graphic novel series.—Leigh Collazo, Dulwich College, Suzhou, China
"With its cast of diverse, well-drawn heroines, colourful world building, and action-packed storyline, FATE OF FLAMES is an immersive and monstrously fun read." (Elsie Chapman, author of DUALED and DIVIDED)
Girl power reigns in this debut fantasy series. Sixteen-year-old Maia believes in heroes and has always idolized the Effigies. No one is more surprised than she is when Natalya, the fire Effigy, dies and Maia is chosen to take her place. Known for their superhuman strength and the ability to control an element, the four, female Effigies are destined to fight phantoms, dark creatures that plague the world. When New York falls prey to a series of phantom attacks orchestrated by a man who can somehow control them, Maia finds herself in the middle of the action. Afraid and untrained, she must learn to work with the other Effigies—timid Lake, angry Chae Rin, and cold, powerful Belle—to save the world. What Maia lacks in skill, she makes up in spunk; however, she spends too long bumbling around, wondering what's going on—but that's intentional. In a world where Effigies are not just heroes, but also celebrities, the novel places an emphasis on humanizing the girls. As she gets to know her sisters-in-battle, it's not long before Maia realizes that Effigies are only human. The characters' races are somewhat ambiguous: Buffalo-born Maia's mother is from Jamaica, British Lake is brown-skinned, French Belle is blonde and white, and Chae Rin is a Canadian originally from South Korea. This series opener has it all: strong females, intrigue, a dash of romance, monsters, and a sequel in the wings. (Fantasy. 14 & up) (Kirkus Reviews 9/1/16)
A 16-year-old becomes the latest in a long line of young women imbued with elemental powers and charged to defend the world from invading monsters. Maia Finley, who has long idolized the so-called Effigies, unexpectedly becomes the new Fire Effigy when the previous one dies. She is taken in by an organization known as the Sect for training, but all plans are disrupted by the emergence of Saul, an enigmatic man with the unprecedented ability to control the phantoms that have terrorized humanity for more than a century. To defeat Saul, Maia must reunite the Effigies, no easy task. In a thrilling adventure with echoes of Pacific Rim, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Raughley (Feather Bound) depicts the cost of power, the lure of fame, and the trauma of overwhelming stress in a compelling story with memorably flawed heroines. References to our world (Star Trek, Popsicles) in an alternate Earth that has seen monumental change (like the destruction of Seattle in the 1960s) are slightly jarring, but it’s a minor quibble in an engrossing kickoff to the Effigies series. Ages 14–up. (Publishers Weekly September 2016)
Top customer reviews
Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley is the first in a new YA Fantasy series. The premise is that ghostly monsters called phantoms have begun terrorizing the world and are only barely held at bay. There are four Effigies, each associated with a classical element (fire, water, earth, air), who are chosen by fate to fight the phantoms.
We join the story when Maia Finley learns that she has been chosen as the newest fire Effigy. Early in the novel, Maia struggles with her selection, especially given her former fangirling of one of the Effigies. Maia followed them in internet forums, created homage videos, and knows every detail about them. And now she has to learn how to become one of them.
I love the process of world-building in a new series and this culture is technologically unique. I wanted to know more about why the phantoms exist, how the technology was developed, and why it kept failing.
A few holes in the plot and some places where the pacing dragged a bit for me kept me from getting completely carried away by this one. Even so, I'll pick up the second, Siege of Shadows, hits shelves in November 2017.
Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Book One of the Effigies series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Rating: 2 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.
When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.
But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.
Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.
Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.
Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?
What I Liked:
I didn't totally dislike this book, but I had several issues with it. These reviews are among the most difficult to write. On the one hand, clearly I didn't love the book. On the other hand, I didn't hate it. Am I trying to convince people to read the book? Or deter them? It's a tough call!
In this first book in a new series, Maia is an Effigy, and the whole world is about to find out. Effigies have the ability to fight phantoms, using one of the elements (fire, water, earth, air). Effigy abilities appear in a random person, and there are only four Effigies at a time, so the abilities pop up when one of the Effigies dies. Natalya, the Fire Effigy, is dead, and now Maia will take her place. But there is something sinister happening. For one, everyone thinks Natalya killed herself. But did she? And then there is Saul, who can control phantoms, and will stop at nothing to get to Maia, killing hundreds of innocent people in the process. Maia is taken to the other three Effigies, who must help her learn about being an Effigy quickly. But will it be too late for Maia?
I got a serious Ghostbusters vibe at first - and I'm talking about the new Ghostbusters movie, with Melissa McCarthy. Effigies destroy phantoms, and the phantoms can be any manner of creature, in a phantom apparition. They destroy them with their element - for example, Maia is the fire Effigy, Belle is the water Effigy, Chae Rin is the earth Effigy, and Lake is the air Effigy.
The book was interesting enough to hold my attention for the entire story, though it dragged throughout. It wasn't a long book, but it took me longer than usual, to finish. But I did finish the story, and it's not like the story was totally boring overall. I have to give the author points for creativity of story, even world-building. The setting changes often, from the U.S. to Argentina to England to France. Which was cool!
I also have to mention that this should be considered a "diverse" book! It made me extremely pleased to see a character with Caribbean roots. Because, obviously!
There is a tiny bit of romance, but it's basically not there. Maia has a crush on a boy, and the boy has a crush on Maia, but that's it. I guess we'll see more of a development in this department in future books.
I'd continue with this series. I wasn't completely disinterested or bored, though my review as a whole might make you otherwise.
What I Did Not Like:
Ahhh, where to start. Let's start with the characters. Every single character was flat, one-dimensional, boring, and had no development throughout the story. Maybe it was just me, not connecting with anyone? But it felt like everyone's personalities and mindsets are the same from start to finish. I didn't think Maia got braver or fiercer or smarter or anything "more", as the story went on. As an Effigy, even a new one, she has a huge responsibility. I was hoping to see her moping self transform into something better... I guess that's not happening, in this book.
But all of the other characters were just as flat. The other three Effigies are critical to this story, and I'd say that Lake is the only one that I saw some little bit of change. But even her, meh. None of the characters had any depth to them, and/or I could connect with any of them.
Also worth mentioning - each of the girls was unique, but they were such stereotypes. Belle, the cold one (the b***h). Chae Rin, the rebellious crazy one. Lake, the dramatic one (pop star). And Maia, the quiet one. Stereotype, stereotype, stereotype, stereotype...
Even the romance was flat. Rhys is a Sect agent, and he protects Maia over and over. I liked Rhys, but he was so one-dimensional and perpetually perfect. You can see that he is holding something back, but every time he wants to tell Maia the thing, he gets interrupted. That was incredibly frustrating! And a bad move, on the author's part. That question goes unanswered, which it really should not have, in this book.
And then there was Maia's dialogue and inner monologue. I don't know if that's just the author's writing style, but Maia's thoughts and speech made me cringe at times. She seemed so juvenile. Yes, she's sixteen, but she seemed like an adolescent, especially given some of her speech.
I'm still confused as to how Effigies are chosen. Randomly by nature? Immediately after one Effigy dies, the abilities jump into another person? And why was Saul "special"? I do not understand that part of the story at all. I'm not understanding the big reveal around Saul, as well. I'm not understanding the source of the phantoms, why they exist, etc. The author really just did not explain anything in this book. I'm not sure if she was waiting to reveal more information in future books?
And then there was the fact that this books dragged a lot, throughout the book. It was boring sometimes, but I think it was the pacing too. Theoretically the idea of this book really appealed to me, and I kept waiting for it to "wow" me, so I kept reading. I was never wow-ed.
Would I Recommend It:
Ehhh. If you were already interested in this book, then it's probably still worth pursuing. If you had a passing interest or not interest at all, then don't bother. If this series gets better, then it may be worth binge-reading. This wasn't the most impressive fantasy novel.
2.5 stars -> rounded down to 2 stars. Part of the reason why I'm rounding down is because, while there were redeeming qualities, there just weren't enough of them. I could see myself reading more from this series. But probably because I need closure. Hopefully it's three books or less!
Fate of Flames takes us on a journey of the young Maia Finley as she becomes the new fire Effigy. Despite the number of times she and her twin have fangirled over the other Effigy warriors, nothing can prepare her for the life she is about to lead. She soon realizes that not everything is glamorous and epic, and that not all heroes are what others make them up to be. This story is about unlimited dreams being challenged with the harshness of reality, death... and faith.
This is like a 3.5 rating for me. The blurb sold me the story, and I thoroughly enjoyed the world that was built up and the chaos that tormented its people. Maia was a very young MC for me, something I'm not used to reading about. I couldn't find her endearing most of the time, but I like to think it's because of how young she was. When I used that excuse, it made the reading experience better, so that every time she decided to say, think or do something cringe-worthy, I wouldn't lose my mind over it.
Not being able to connect with the MC makes it hard to love everything when the whole time, it's her POV you're in. My favorite characters were Belle and Chae Rin, partially because of their prickly little sarcastic attitudes, mainly because they felt the most mature out of the entire cast. Rhys was a little secretive with a smiling mask, Maia was... Maia, and Lake was a bit innocent. They all had different levels of maturity, I guess, but I clicked more with Chae Rin and Belle. They were the only ones who really brought Maia back down to earth when she started getting hypocritical with her assessment of the others. Aside from the characters, the world was awesome. If this book isn't a romance (which I'm pretty sure it isn't), then I'm glad, cause I wasn't really feeling it with Rhys, and if anything, made it seem more like a reason to break Maia. Cause God knows she'll need some breaking into before she can build herself back up... The writing style was a little fast pace (or not fast enough) but I'm glad I managed to finish. The cover's gorgeous, but the content may have to grow on me for an installment or two more.
I have nothing against Maia, she just wasn't for me. I could see myself liking her once she's grown up a bit, but for now, I'll have to enjoy the ride from a far, reminding myself that she isn't the only character in the book. If you like books that are about one's life changing and being introduced to a world of scary wonder, check this out. Loved the antagonist, the phantoms, and the idea that this author came up with. Can't wait to see where she decides to take it.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley!Read more