Ever since Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo put together a Diversity in YA Tour (and now a website) across the country that I was once lucky enough to attend,...moreEver since Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo put together a Diversity in YA Tour (and now a website) across the country that I was once lucky enough to attend, I've become more attuned to the lack of diversity in fantasy. One of the earliest things to appeal to me about FIRE as I began reading was the fact that Maya is Indian, and that her family immigrated to the USA. FIRE also introduces readers to Indian mythology and beliefs, which I don't know much about. These elements certainly kept my interest!
Maya has always grown up believing she was ordinary. She takes martial arts lessons from her father, and her parents have never forced her to believe in their gods. She thinks their faith is nothing more than pretty stories, simply mythological lore. When she's trapped in a bad situation at a party, she discovers there's more to her--and her parents--than she ever thought possible. Somehow, she's able to generate and control fire. Somehow, the new guy at school, Nik, who has been showing up wherever she goes, knows more than he's saying. Somehow, her parents have kept important facts from her. The Indian gods are real, and Maya is the Hand of Kali. A great destiny lies ahead of her...if only she embraces it before the Rakshasa demons hunting her succeed in their quest to lure her to their side.
On top of learning about Indian gods, readers are also treated to new lifestyles. Maya's family is more lax than other Indian families. Maya's friend Ria, however, is from a very traditional family. Her father rules with an iron fist, believes in arranged marriages, and feels that girls are worthless. Maya can't understand why Ria goes along with his mandates, but is glad her family isn't as strict. She still gets in trouble for going out to an unchaperoned party with alcohol present, and her parents would have a cow if Ria dated a boy who didn't share her heritage, but they genuinely care about her. They've never even forced their religious beliefs on her, though after finding out she's the Hand of Kali, Maya believes in a way she never did before. Maya's friendships with both Ria and her friend Joss are strong; she'll go to great lengths to keep them safe. At the same time, her love of them makes her blind. She wavers when Ria is possessed by a Rakshasa demon, and allows Joss to come along on a journey untrained and unprepared. Maya also grows close to the mysterious Nik over the course of the story despite initial misunderstandings between the two, and he plays an important part in her mission. While there were a few jarring grammatical inconsistencies that, at times, pulled me from the story, I was reading an advance copy, so I can only assume they've been edited and cleaned up for the official book launch. This was my only major issue with the novel, though I also don't feel that Joss' presence at the end added anything essential to the story except a show of Maya's character.
FIRE is another series where the author has created a clean, full ending without cliffhangers. There are enough new elements introduced that can feed into a new story, which will be its own, full adventure because the one in FIRE ended. I always enjoy when an author pays attention to everyone moaning over the inherent evil of (sometimes unnecessary) cliffhangers and brings readers full-circle. It makes me moan less about how few stand-alones are out there. This method works for me and makes waiting so much easier!
If you're looking for a well-rounded, clean-ending novel full of girls who kick butt and can take care of themselves when faced with a strong opponent, or if you want more diversity in your fantasy or stronger ties with family and friends, FIRE should definitely be on your TBR radar. (less)
If you're a fan of Norse mythology and looking for something to read, the first book in Susan Krinard's new urban fantasy series may be just what you...more If you're a fan of Norse mythology and looking for something to read, the first book in Susan Krinard's new urban fantasy series may be just what you need. MIST is an adult novel, so I wouldn't recommend it to a kid looking for a Percy Jackson-esque story (And for that, we have Rick Riordan's own Norse mythology series due out in 2015 anyway!).
Mist was one of three Valkyrie to escape her dying world during Ragnarok. She escaped to our world and no longer holds the same beliefs she once did. She never ages, and has lived through unspeakable horrors such as the Holocaust. One day on her way home from working out, she stumbles into an angry Jotunar (frost giant) and Alfar (elf). She realizes that Ragnarok never happened. Loki is back, seeking Odin's Gungnir, which is in Mist's possession. The only problem? Loki was also disguising himself as Mist's boyfriend of the last six months. The jig up, Loki steals Gungnir and runs. It's up to Mist and the all-knowing Alfar Dainn to follow Freja's will from beyond and save Midgard before Loki brings the real Ragnarok down and destroys our world.
There's a lot of Norse mythology going on here. I'm not as familiar with Norse as I am other mythologies, though I wish I knew more. The book was rich with this information, and brought in many types of creatures and gods. There's so much more to Mist than what meets the eye, and she learns a lot about herself that was kept hidden from her over the centuries, information that changes everything. Her love interest, Dainn, knows more than he shares with her, and at first, he's dislikable, but once readers get a glimpse through his eyes, he becomes more endearing. I also sort of envisioned him as Legolas. Sorry, Orlando Bloom. There's so much world-building going on in MIST, and at times, I question the rhyme and reason of things, but I'm hoping these matters become more fleshed out in future books. MIST is still a great fantasy novel for fans of Norse mythology or those looking to learn more about it!(less)