Author: Josephine Angelini
Published: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)
Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher
Genre: Romance, Paranormal (Witches)
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.
I've fought with myself multiple times whether to mark this book as DNF or just continue reading. Honestly, DNF-ing was the easiest thing to do but I felt compelled to finish it because a.) it isn't really a habit of mine to DNF books and b.) this was a surprise gift by the publisher. So I gathered all the sense in me and still worked my way hard to finishing it. AND I DID.
Trial by Fire has been getting a lot of buzz on Twitter the past few months but I have minimal knowledge about it. It was about Lily, a sickly teenager from Salem, Massachusetts. Almost every microorganism known to man can be a trigger for her allergies. Her best friend Tristan, looks after her and she happens to be in love with him. Good thing though, they are getting there. On the night of the first party Lily attended, she was given a spiked drink then she caught Tristan making out with someone and she felt so betrayed. Her allergies and emotion took the best of her and went down with the worst seizure. Feeling all kinds of humiliated the next day, something weird happened to her, she woke up on a different Salem -- where witches rule the place and magic exists.
The story has a very alluring world building. I believe this is the first multi-universe story I've read and the construction of it was a little intimidating but lovely to read. It was not very easy to go through, maybe because I was also confused, but I get the picture. Mostly. The scene-shifting gave me a hard time focusing on it, too. Like, I was so into Rowan/Lily one minute and then I wouldn't have any idea the scene shifted to Gildeon or Carrick. Like, I was expecting a little breather in between. And because of that, I would go back to the previous page, skim it and try to wrap my brains around it so I could move on. Repeat.
I also had issues with the dragging pacing. I might not have enough patience but seriously, it was too slow for me. Also, the science reference drove me insane. That alone pushed me towards the DNF basket and just shoot for 3 points. I loved it but there were moments I felt like I was reading a science/text book. It didn't help for me because I wanted to escape that reality in life through books and yet, here I am, hearing all about thermodynamics, physics, biology and even OMG calculus. The book sounded too pretentious for me even though I know, the characters in this world have the ability to remember everything they read. You know, it didn't click for me.
One thing that didn't work for me as well was the Claiming. It was truly something that bothered me while reading not because of the process of how they do it but by how confusing the story became. I mean, I could no longer separate their memories from what currently is happening. Aside from sharing bits of memories, the background narration was really off. The story flow was zigzagging up until the end.
What about Lily? Lily was so weak but a good hearted character. The only problem was, since the time she was transported to this other Salem, she didn't STRONGLY show how badly she wants to go home or how she misses her true sister or even her real world. She EASILY adapted to this other Salem and didn't SLIGHTLY show any level of curiosity as to what the heck really is happening to her/around her. Just because she has Rowan, she fell for what was laid on the table in a snap. And the transition from being a normal human to a powerful witch didn't impress me. I didn't understand how they trained her or how fast she got accustomed to her powers which again, made the book pretentious in my taste. Like, she was only given some stones and she's immediately the most powerful witch in Salem. Wow. How unsettling.
"I want you to be everything I loved about her and nothing I hated." The romance part was so unfair for me. What, just because she looks somebody else doesn't give any man the right to fall for her THAT instant. We all should be loved for who we are and not because you know, I look like your damned ex or something.
This whole experience deserves 2 stars (or even 1), so to speak. But I gave it 3. It went up one star because of: a.) Rowan Fall -- he's the most caring male protagonist I can remember I encountered. He didn't show arrogance knowing how powerful of a mechanic he is (though he's impatient) and how much bravery he showed to admit his vulnerability made me swoon for him. Given that he's gorgeous, his entire character balanced the rightness and wrongness in a perfect sequence. (I also love Caleb and Other-Salem Tristan) And b.) THAT FREAKING ENDING. The ending was the climax of the story in my opinion. It was a full blast cliffhanger ending and I seriously can't calm myself right now.
Trial by Fire is something I wouldn't re-read in the near future but would still recommend it to readers who love multi-universe plots, intense endings and one of the boys kind of relationships. Though I am a little disappointed, I am still giddy to know what happens next!
Thank you Pan Macmillan for the review copy!
"Funny how quickly the mind moves, but how slowly time does when you’re in pain."
"There comes a day when every girl loses the stars in her eyes. And then she can see clearly."
"They'd shared more than memories the night before. What they'd experienced was a communion."