Saturday, 25 October 2014

Heart Of A Phoneix

Flame by Mari Arden surprised me in ways I didn't expect. It had been on my reading list for a long, long time. So long I forgot that there were aliens in it. Going in, I got some of the familiar YA ideas: A young girl falling in love with a mysterious, secretive man who belongs in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad, strange new abilities, a difficult family life, all the things young readers love. But what I wasn't expecting was the intensely creative mythology, amazing powers, and intense, action-packed ending.

Absolutely stunning cover. Seriously. Wow.
Some secrets change your life forever.

Have you ever felt invisible? I do. Everyday. I can't get close to anyone, and people can't get close to me. Everytime I feel a friendship beginning, something inevitably happens, and I become invisible again. Unseen. Ignored. It's been a part of me for so long that it's hard to imagine anything different.

Then the Saguinox arrive, and my life is forever altered. People are fascinated by these beautiful creatures who look and talk like us. They're alluring. Seductive. Intoxicating. And two of them are going to my school. Rhys is everything I shouldn't want, but his eyes are like something from a memory. I can't help but be intrigued. He's the only one who can really see me.

Some secrets you're better off not knowing.

I had been found on a cold winter night with nothing but a blanket, and ashes covering my skin. My mother saved me from death, and took me in with love. But she couldn't save herself. I didn't think heroes were real anymore until the day Kaiden saved me. I couldn't believe in miracles until the day he revealed I was the miracle they had all been hoping for. Deep inside I always knew my past mattered.

I just didn't know my life would depend on it.

If you think this sounds like a lot going on, well, you're not wrong. But the story was well paced enough that I never found myself wondering if something was missing or had been skipped. As this is part of a series, it's safe to assume that any questions will be answered in later books. Arden's writing is strong and she definitely knows her audience. I found the characters to be interesting, if a little familiar.

For example, I couldn't help but think of Twilight when Rhys was introduced. The main character, Kenna, was instantly taken by him and found him to be the most beautiful thing on two legs. He says his motives are for her protection, but it seemed like he was just controlling Kenna by being super sexy. I'm much more fond of Kaiden. He's a stronger character and easier to relate to since he genuinely wants to help Kenna, and I hope to see more of him in the future. 

Kenna herself is difficult. She's not a bad role model– I'll take her over Bella Swan any day of the year– but since her powers are fire based, I expected a much more fiery attitude. Granted, she's smart and knows when to play the docile damsel, but I was hoping she would fight for herself more. Or at least not be so freaking attached to Rhys. 

The mythology of the story is very interesting, as the powers are heavily based on connection. Rule one, rule them all sort of thing. The Saguinox shocked me with their true nature, and I have to admit that the ending was way more brutal than anything I was expecting from a YA novel. The story teased a few times that facing down the Big Bad Guy would be dangerous, and it wasn't kidding around. One thing that kind of took me out of the novel was Kenna being human, and accepting that she had pyrokinesis. Maybe I missed something, but if I woke up one day and found out that I had the ability to call fire to my hands and body, I'd think I need a CAT scan or a psychic evaluation. Kenna's blind acceptance of her gift made the believability a little more difficult.

But again, it wasn't a bad book. This is the start of a series, an experiment by an ambitious author. Anything could happen, and I would be willing to read the next novel in the series. So if you like YA paranormal romances and aliens, this could be the book for you. Enjoy!


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