Google+ Jen Ryland/YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire (Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
by Josephine Angelini
To be published on September 2, 2014
by Feiwel and Friends

Source: ARC sent by the publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and 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 cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian -- Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences. Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected. But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

My take:  I really enjoyed Josie Angelini's first trilogy -- the Starcrossed series published by Harper Teen. While the first book in that series opened with some very familiar PNR (paranormal romance) tropes -- an awkward girl encounters a mysterious boy who seems to violently hate her; he has a large, equally mysterious family; and the two learn that they absolutely can't be together -- as the trilogy moved away from this familiar set-up, I came to appreciate its imaginative, mythology-based story world and unexpected humor.

As I read the opening chapters of Trial by Fire, I must confess to feeling a bit of PNR deja-vu. Lily Proctor is -- wait for it! -- awkward and out of place. Her severe allergies make it hard for her to live a normal life.  When she attends her first high school party, trouble ensues and she wakes up in a strange version of her hometown of Salem -- one she doesn't recognize -- and is faced by, among other people, a young man who looks at her with unadulterated hatred.

At that point I thought the book would be time travel, with Lily sent back to seventeenth-century Salem.  (I hadn't read the synopsis before starting.) But no-- the story is far more interesting and unexpected. As the synopsis above indicates, this is an alternate universe(s) book. Lily has been sent to an alternate Salem, where she meets her alternate self in that universe. (I'm not an expert on quantum physics, but I think I remember from Back to the Future that doing this makes the world explode or something, though Doctor Who seems to have no problem with it...)

As I kept reading, I really fell in love with Trial by Fire. While many first books in trilogies choose action over world-building, this book features some of the most imaginative and interesting worldbuilding I've read in YA in 2014. I also loved the way that the magic in the book is grounded in science. (I'm no scientist, so I can't attest to the workability of the magic, but I was impressed by its creativity and thoroughness.) Finally, I was charmed by the book's humor. The Starcrossed series showed me that Angelini has a wacky and unexpected sense of humor, and that shines through in this book. Yes, Lily is in danger much of the time, but her attempts to explain her world to the residents of alternate Salem resulted in some truly funny moments.

The one thing about this book that made me a little uneasy was the romance. The love triangle was my least favorite part of the Starcrossed trilogy, and alt-universe books always open up the possibility of some very messy romantic situations. That's the case here. With two Lilys, a love interest who only exists in alt-Salem, and tqo versions of guy friend-who-could-be-more, there's the potential for a lot of romantic angst. (Then again, there are also enough people to get most everyone paired off.)

Overall, I loved Trial by Fire, which has gone on my list of Favorites of 2014. It has a little something for everyone: romance, danger, science, humor. It's a book that I had a hard time putting down, and I book that I highly recommend picking up!

Have you read this one or are you excited to? I'm on vacation this week, so if you leave a comment, I will do my best to respond and return it when I'm back :)

43 comments:

  1. I've wanted to read this book since I heard of its existence but now I'm really going to have to get my hands on it! Great review!

    Erin @ The Book Nut

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  2. I really enjoyed this one as well. I loved how the magic worked and the alternate world idea, though sometimes it was confusing if I wasn't paying close enough attention.

    I haven't read her other series yet but I plan on it... someday... maybe when I get my own time turner or something.

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    1. Yeah, that's my issue with alternate worlds -- I'm easily confused. But this book made it work for me!

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  3. I loved this book so much and it also one of my favourites. I have a review over on my blog if you want to check it out to hear more of my own thoughts

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  4. I didn't finish her Starcrossed series! Though I (mostly) liked book one. I LOVED this book as well. I don't usually enjoy books with witches, but I really enjoyed that aspect of this book. Plus, Rowan & Lily <3 Excellent review, Jen! So glad you loved this one as well :D

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. I liked her first trilogy, but I have to say that her writing and storytelling have become so much stronger in this book!

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  5. I still havent read the Starcrossed series but it is on my tbr list, so this will be my first read from Angelini. I loved this review, the fact that author created this amazing world, that there are parallel universes and the quirky humor. I cant wait to read this, I feel like I will love it :)

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  6. I really have to get around to reading this book. My favorite books are usually one with a good worldbuilding, so now I'm really excited to read it.

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    1. Yeah, I'm getting a bit irritated by the "that will be explained in the next book" worldbuilding, so I really appreciated that this book explained things!

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  7. I'm highly likely to pick this up since you couldn't put it down! Love your review, I just hope the love triangle doesn't drag on too much :(

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  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed this! Reading everyone's rave reviews is making me so exited to read my ARC!! I thought this was merely about witches, but it sounds amazing and wonderful and so much more. I'm glad that the time is spent on great world-building and that Angelini is showing off her humor :) Lovely review!

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

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    1. Me too- I was a little excited about witches and time travel, but WAY more excited about the alternative world thing. And I always love some humor in a book!

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  9. It's good to know that it gets better after the usual start. I usually run the other way as soon as I smell any of the PNR tropes, and especially awkward girl mysterious boy. Thank you but no thank you.
    I'll know to be patient with this one.

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    1. Yes -- do not be deterred by that set-up. I was like....eh... but SO glad I kept reading :)

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  10. Haven't heard of this book yet, but I like how you described it so I will definitely keep it in mind. Thanks for your great review!

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  11. I'm VERY excited for this one. I too loved the Starcrossed trilogy :) So I have high hopes for this :) I have a feelin this will be one of my favs too!
    Great review Jen

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  12. Yay, I've never read her other trilogy but I'm excited for this one. I think I'm gonna go with the audio for it. Looking forward to it :)

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  13. I am such the black sheep with this book :-( It never ended up working for me though I agree that the world building was very interesting and creative. I appreciated the lore but I had so many issues with the writing and Lily. I'm happy that you could look past those first chapters and grow to really appreciate the story. I'll be very curious to hear how the sequel is since I'm undecided if I'll want to read it or not.

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    1. Ha -- I was thinking of starting a blog feature called "Black Sheep," for when I'm the odd person out!

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  14. I just read another raving review for this today so now I'm doubly keen! I hadn't heard of it until now! I have to admit the US cover is better than the UK version (the UK one looks like it's just a contemporary). I sooo want to try this. ;) I haven't read the author's other trilogy though, so I should probably look that up too.

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    1. Yeah, usually the UK covers are better but in this case, the US one is by far my favorite!

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  15. I started reading this a few days ago and I am really enjoying it! I loved the Starcrossed series, as well, and you're write about the PNR trope, but the story is moving along quickly enough so that it doesn't really bother me.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. Yeah, it's only a chapter or two of that familiar kind of set-up and then everything changes. I loved that!

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  16. This one sounds great! The title seems so familiar I can't put a name to the cover, until today! Glad you enjoyed this one and I'll be adding it to my TBR pile!

    Happy Reading
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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  17. I've heard similar things about the love triangle but if it's anything like the one in Starcrossed, I think it'll work out in a way I won't despise it. I adore the Starcrossed series (even though I still need to read Goddess) so I am definitely looking forward to read this and I hope I'll adore it as much as you did!

    Plus you have me excited by mentioned that the magic is grounded in science. I've always found that take on magic very interesting since I can be the kind of person who requires explanations.. and lots of them!

    Lovely review, Jen!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  18. I felt the same way when it came to the beginning...I was a little nervous but I ended up really really enjoying it! I completely agree about the world building - it was AWESOME!

    Great review, Jen!

    -Em @ Books & Cleverness

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  19. This whole "main character being an awkward being" thing is really getting on my nerves. But I guess we tall and not awkward people aren't worth mentioning *snorts* Anyhow what bothers me here is that love triangle, but then again when magic grounded in science it usually means I'd love the book. So I guess we'll see. Great review, Jen :)

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  20. I know its overused but I love the awkward and left out feeling because I connect with it so much.

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  21. I've been reading a lot of reives about this book because I really want to read it (but I didn't like Starcrossed).
    Great review, Jen. I think I'll give it a try!

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  22. Yay! I'm so glad you loved this one. I've been seeing a lot of mixed thoughts and updates about it on Twitter and was getting worried. The alternate universe idea sounds so interesting, though. I think I'd like that part of the book. Plus, I don't mind messy romantic situations. They can be fun (well, to read). :D Great review! I'm excited to read this one.

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  23. I have this one from NetGalley and have been dying to get to it! It just looks amazing and I know you loved her other series, so I requested it when it came up. Now I'm really glad I did since you enjoyed it so much! :)

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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  24. I have heard so many good things about this book! It's been on my TBR pile for a while, so thank you for the review.

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  25. Ooh I am so glad that Trial by Fire worked out well for you, Jen! Sounds fabulous and I love the cover.

    Lovely review <33

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  26. Awesome review! I have had several blogger friend really love this story. Will read it!

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  27. Peeked at your final words--I ended up loving this one, too, and I didn't expect to! Posting my mini review next week, so I look forward to reading your review after that.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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