Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

I’m having trouble reading again, nothing is quite striking my fancy. I’m still in the middle of Half a Yellow Sun, but it’s taking longer to read than I expected.I was recommended this book by a work colleague.

So, to take a break from Adichie I decided to read The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig, which I was recommended by a work colleague.

‘They were born together and they will die together. One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts. Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.’ GoodReads.

The concept of Alpha/Omega, especially as a reflection of how society can other the disabled, racially different or mentally ill, was a very interesting topic. It needs further development but was an interesting way to approach a post-apocalyptic world. I wondered at the beginning if it may also be a comment on power and the ills modern technology, but this element was not pushed in the way I expected.

Set a few hundred years after a nuclear disaster, Alpha and Omega twins split the world. One healthy and able to reproduce, the other deformed or ill and unable to have children. The Alpha’s are held in high regard while the Omega’s the are reviled, punished for being different. There is one tenuous tie between them: should one die, so will the other.

Cassandra and Zach, Omega and Alpha respectively, are interesting characters though I would have liked to have seen more of Zach (and generally more character development). I never disliked any of the characters, and I liked that Cass remained undefined by the elements of romance. However, by the time Cassandra meets Kip, a fellow Omega…, and they run from Alpha incarceration, I was bored. The plot was long, and I quickly found myself wishing it would get to the point a sooner than it was ready to.

To wit, as entertaining as The Fire Sermon was, I would really like to encounter a YA Dystopian that doesn’t flow as follows:

  1. Discrimination/segregation etc..
  2. Protagonist bucks trend
  3. Protagonist encounters danger
  4. Protagonist gains sidekick (possible romantic interest)
  5. Protagonist finds new land that turns their world on its head
  6. Death
  7. Peace

That is, assuming this is a YA novel? From the writing, and plot, I thought it was even though Cass and Zach are in their early 20s by the end of the novel.

Regardless of my experience, I do recommend reading The Fire Sermon. The premise and strong female protagonist are worth the experience.

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3 Comments on "Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig"

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Charlie
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Depending on when it was released it could be considered adult, I suppose. This doesn’t sound a bad book, but I admit to finding the summary a little confusing. With dystopian fiction it’s difficult, there should be differences but I think where we almost expect a bucking of the trend and peace there are going to be few writers that do differently. It’s either a ‘phew’ or a warning.

Jenny @ Reading the End
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Reading Station Eleven recently made me think about the different options that dystopians can offer. They don’t always have to follow that pattern. There are other ways to go, and if Station Eleven is anything to go by, the alternate options can be awesome. (Which is to say, I am sort of tired of the pattern you describe, though I do love dystopian fiction.)