by Renee Ahdieh
Released: May 16th 2017
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Narrator: Nancy Wu
Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
“It should’ve been an intense ride because of the circumstances, the plot, the setting. Instead I found it all just ok and a bit anticlimactic. ”
~ Under the Covers
I was so excited to read this book because I enjoyed Renee Ahdieh’s writing in The Wrath and the Dawn. I honestly didn’t even read the blurb because that cover sold me from the start as well. But then I realized this was sort of a Mulan retelling (or inspired) story and I couldn’t have been more excited. And while a lot of things about FLAME IN THE MIST drew me in, a lot of others left me feeling a little flat.
The writing style is very much the same as Ahdieh’s previous work. That mostly works for me, although I know is not for everyone. I liked the flowery way that some things are expressed. However, the pacing of this storytelling felt like it should’ve been building up to something that I didn’t think quite got there for me.
Then we get to the characters, and this is where I’m most conflicted. I liked them, but also I didn’t care enough for them. Mariko, our heroine, wants more for her life than just being someone’s wife. She has a natural curiosity and interest in learning things, but she finds herself being shipped off to prepare for a marriage to the Emperor’s illegitimate son. On her way, they are ambushed by “The Black Clan” and she escapes with her life. She also sees the opportunity of infiltrating this clan pretending to be a boy to find out who wanted her dead. But she finds a lot more thhan she bargained for as she uncovers truths about things she thought she knew. Conspiracies, betrayals, lies, secrets… All this while her twin brother, samurai warrior Kenshin, is trying to prove she’s still alive.
I really wanted to care more for Mariko. I liked her ok but she seemed quite forgettable for me in the end. The connections between the characters seemed a little loose as well. It should’ve been an intense ride because of the circumstances, the plot, the setting. Instead I found it all just ok and a bit anticlimactic.
So while I didn’t get as much out of this read as I wanted to, I’ll probably be picking up the next book because we are left with quite the cliffy in the end and I just now have to know how things will develop from there. Maybe this was just one of those books that suffers from first book syndrome.
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