Hey friends! So I’ve unhauled my first set of books for my 2019 Unhaul Challenge! I’m sad I didn’t love this, but also excited to make some progress. Here are my thoughts.
These are beautiful books to look at. Aesthetically, I love them. Sadly, the story didn’t work for me and I DNF’d book #1, Trial by Fire, at 150 pages in (out of 374). The premise and idea sound fantastic to me! I love the idea of alternate universes and overcoming your own fears. However, this novel just didn’t do it for me. The Goodreads synopsis states:
“This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies make it increasingly difficult to live a normal life, and after a completely humiliating incident ruins her first (and perhaps only) real party, she’s ready to disappear. Suddenly, Lily finds herself in a different Salem. One overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women–including Lillian, this world’s version of Lily. What made Lily weak at home, makes her extraordinary here. It also puts her in terrible danger. Faced with new responsibilities she can barely understand and a love she never expected, Lily is left with one question: How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?”
The biggest problem I’ve found with YA books is that the authors sometimes try too hard to make a character relatable and end up just throwing a ton of cliches together. Lily is a living, breathing (sort of) cliche. She is super sickly and weak but yet the most desired boy in school wants to date her because they are childhood friends. She is plain, pale and has unruly red hair but yet people think she’s beautiful and she can’t understand why, coupled with her being a total prude. She is a t-shirt-and-jeans-with-Chuck Taylor’s-wearing vegan, and incredibly self-righteous about it. When she gets to the alternate Salem, she is VERY slow to adapt. And of course she starts falling for the mysterious and moody boy with the sensuous lips and brooding eyes. I mean, come on. Can we get any more cliches? Oh yes, her alternate self is a total whackjob and everyone hates her. Of course they mistake Lily for Lillian and now she’s in danger. Insert massive groan here.
The alternate Salem is medieval but has technology and magic. There are monsters that are failed experiments. There’s a war between the Outlanders and the Citizens. The author borrowed heavily from Native American inspired themes and that was pretty interesting to see. There’s definitely some social commentary about persecution of Native Americans and good versus evil in the name of science and progress. Sadly though, this wasn’t enough to keep me hooked and I had to put it down after the umpteenth groan and eye roll at something silly that happened or that Lily said.
Verdict: I will not continue this series and unhaul the trilogy! Were this to become a movie, I would totally watch it. It has some great potential for the screen and could be entertaining, as long as the immaturity of the characters doesn’t overshadow the actual plot.