Book Review: ‘Firebrand’ by Antony John

Posted: 2 October 2016 in Book reviews
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With their home destroyed and parents rescued, secrets come to light that change their lives forever. Before they can learn more, the pirates attack killing Rose’s father, Kyte. Their only option is to flee on the ship. Homeless, they sail towards Fort Sumter, a supposed safe haven for plague survivors. As their elements gradually wane, no one is certain they’ve made the right choice.

The group arrive at Fort Sumter a few people less and a lot more divided, but Thomas is certain that their new life there will be good for them. At first it was. They were given a place to sleep and jobs to do and slowly they became part of the community. They just had to keep their elements hidden. This is no easy task for the kids. Their elements were an integral part of who they felt they were. But they tried.

Despite Thomas quickly gaining the trust of the leader, Chief, there are still some doubts. What is hidden in the forbidden locked room? To find out, Dennis sneaks inside while the others create a diversion. He gets caught, but not before seeing things he never should have seen. While they don’t see why it’s a big deal, this seemingly trivial act has far-reaching consequences. Chief no longer trusts Thomas, and Rose’s mother and brother are separated from the the group.

Days later, Thomas, Rose, and Alice are sent on a dangerous food-gathering mission. This should have been a routine venture, but the kids have been unknowingly led into a trap. Their families are used as hostages to ensure they comply and that nothing bad happens to Kell. Foolishly, Kell reveals to them that their coming to Fort Sumter was no accident. Now, they must do whatever it takes to survive and rescue their families once again.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed the first book in the series and only heard good things about the second book. I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

Like the first book, the story was entertaining and thrilling. I like how John uses real places in his books that he has thoroughly researched. There is a kind of irony in the places he has chosen. They add to the mystery, which I love. Bit by bit, pieces of this puzzle are revealed that just add to the intrigue of the story. Pieces like why Dare came after them in the first place. And shocking revelations like who Dare brought to Fort Sumter first, someone thought long dead was. There is a lot that comes to light in this book, but some of these revelations only make certain things more confusing, such as how Jerren is an elemental despite clearly not coming from their community. There was also no resolution to why Alice’s sister killed herself. What was so shocking for her that death was the only answer? I really hope the final book answers this and so much more. The last thing I liked was the relationship development between Rose and Thomas. While it is clear that it progresses, John is quite vague as to which stage it progresses to. I appreciated that. I mean, yes this is a teen book so it isn’t surprising to be vague, but I still thought it was cool.

There are really only a couple new noteworthy characters in this book: Chief, Kell, and siblings Jerren and Nyla. Chief and Kell are truly evil. In the beginning, Chief comes across as this kind of grandfatherly guy and truly appears to care, but that is so not true. You can kind of see this in some of the ways he interacts with Thomas. He is very manipulative. Kell evilness is pretty open. He doesn’t hide that he has killed or is bothered by killing. He has no remorse. The full extent of this is shown during the final food-gathering trip. Jerren and Nyla are an interesting pair. They are clearly different from everyone else. No one knows he is an elemental until the end. This revelation makes his fascination with all of them make so much sense. Especially if he hadn’t had much contact with others like himself. Despite how he acts towards the end of the book, he really does try to do the right thing. He seems honourable. I also like how the two aren’t shy about showing how they feel.

Like the first book, this book is well written and researched. It has a good flow to it and is very easy to read. I struggled with putting it down.

I am glad to say that this book is much better than the first one. But being so, there is a lot of pressure for the final book. There are many questions that need answering. I really can’t wait to find out how this story ends. This is definitely a must read. Enjoy 😉

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