Updated: May 27, 2022
Of Ember and Flame, #1
Released 20 December 2021
I really loved this book. I mean, it earned its place on my GR favorites shelf. However, I have to be completely honest. No book, not even one of my favorite, is ever perfect. And this book is far from perfect. But, I just can't bring myself to care. I just don't care.
I enjoyed reading it, and I really enjoyed seeing what would happen! And that's all that really matters, right?
World Building ~ 9/10
Wow. What a CREATIVE world!
I've read my fair share of YA fantasy. I've seen a bunch of different worlds, some like Earth and others trying and failing to create another Earth. (Not really, but it sounded cool 😂 ) Nonetheless, I have read a lot of books that take place on a psuedo–Earth, and this book just added to the count.
I liked the idea of it taking place in Sydney, Australia in the "real" Earth and in a parallel universe in a land called Gaea. Now, I'm no Aussie, and I won't even pretend that I have any idea of how real Aussies live. However, I did really like how Sydney was described, even if it was completely inaccurate. I also thought it was really cool that Resistance was set in such a unique location. Still, I really feel like the setting could have been anywhere else, and it wouldn't have changed things. The world just wasn't built up enough.
A similar thing happened with Gaea. It was such a cool idea, but I wish there were more to the description of the world. I get that it was basically Earth minus the continental drift, but still, couldn't I have a bit more of the setting??
History–wise, I loved reading about the culture and history of Gaea. It was in no way an info dump, and it fit seamlessly into the actual plot, which is a major plus!
So I guess, overall it was undoubtedly good. There just could have been a bit more.
Characters ~ 8/10
I loved the characters. There wasn't really a huge cast, so it was very easy to get invested in the characters.
I'll highlight Lia and Coen more separately, but I'd like to take a second to rant and rave about Tyler, Cassedia, and Sebastian. I absolutely loved these three supporting characters, Tyler and Cassedia more than Sebastian. Sebastian was an amazing mentor and teacher. Not as good as Iroh, but who is? Now, Tyler and Cassedia — they were amazing, and I wish we saw more of them. Still, I loved how supportive they were of Lia.
Lia is our MC and only POV. Personality–wise, I really liked her. Actually, generally, I liked her overall.
I thought her character development and the development of her powers were especially interesting. When she was once outgoing, she had withdrawn into her shell a bit after her parents' deaths. But throughout the story, we get to see her become a bit more steady and less reliant on her twin, Tyler, for support. She definitely wasn't a wallflower at the start, and she didn't turn into a 100% confident and sure person at the end, so her development was much more lowkey. However, I feel as though that this particular development was true to her character. Anything more would have felt unnatural.
However, I had 2 minor problems with her. Sometimes she didn't seem 15. Also, her powers seemed to come a bit too easily for her. Look, I get that she is the **SPOILER REDACTED**, but I wish she had to struggle more.
Other than that, I thought she was an amazing MC, and I can't wait to see more of her in the next book!
Coen is my spirit animal.
He is absolutely amazing. I love how kind and considerate he is. He's just an amazing person, and I want even more of him. He technically did not change, not like Lia (or even Tyler), but he remained a steady constant (shut up, I know that's redundant). I liked how he always remained this aware and self–confident man without being arrogant. I also liked how he always was optimistic and encouraging especially when it came to Lia.
Plot ~ 8/10
I think the whole plot was quite captivating! I enjoyed reading about Lia's training and preparation for her big "quest."
However, I was slightly surprised to hit about 50% for them to still be training. I really thought something big was going to happen. The main quest didn't actually hit until about the 75% mark, which I thought was pretty late. This isn't to say that nothing happened up to that point. Things did, and actually those things were actually pretty important. Plus, they were interesting, so I wasn't too concerned. I just thought it was interesting how long it took for the "big thing" to occur.
Once that happened though, this picked up even more! And then, it stopped at a nasty cliffhanger. Not the type of cliffhanger where a character is about to lose a fight to the death, but more like the type of cliffhanger where a character is about to drop a huge bomb on their history. GIMME MORE!!!!!
Technically, I think this book was kind of a backstory and a filler novel, but I loved it anyway. (I know I definitely will be reading the next one, whenever that'll be.) Still, even though "backstory" and especially "filler" make it sound bad, I think it really set the stage for the next book. So while I say "filler," I still think it's pretty important to the whole plot and the character development.
Relationships ~ 8.5/10
There weren't a whole lot of friendships and relationships, but the main ones were amazing. I'm going to highlight them individually:
~Lia & Tyler~
I loved how close these twins were. I'm sure many twins are close and understand each other even more so that "normal" siblings. That's at least how Lia and Tyler were. I loved how much they understood and loved each other. I also loved how much they respected each other and how in tune to the other's feelings they were.
That being said, I really wish they had more page time, just being siblings. Just so we could get more of their close relationship.
~Lia & Coen~
I'm about to surprise all of you. There was no romance. None, zilch, nada, nothing.
I definitely think there's potential for one between them, but at this stage, Lia and Coen are really just friends. And while I was secretly hoping for a romance between them, I don't think it would have felt real. I think the whole book takes place over a couple weeks, at most? So, for them to just fall in love, it just would have felt too much like an insta–love.
Nonetheless, they have such an amazing friendship. Coen really helps Lia cultivate her powers, and he's always there for moral support, and it's amazing. I really like how much they evidently trust each other. If they ever do become a couple, they've definitely built a solid foundation!
Prose & Pacing ~ 9/10
Overall, I really had no problems with CEO's prose and pacing. The writing was just so easy to consume. Also, given that this is an indie book, I was prepared to find some grammatical errors, just as I had with A Sword of Greed and Envy and The Night Orchid, 2 of my recent indie reads. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find perfect grammar! And for this grammar Nazi, that makes me extremely happy, as it can be a good indication of rigorous proofreading.
However, one thing I think CEO could have done differently is to separate the chapters. A lot of the chapters were extremely long but were split up into "sections" (like when authors change a scene but not a chapter). I feel like the chapters could have been broken up more at the section changes, and it wouldn't have made a real difference. But that's just a personal preference.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, I feel like the pacing could have used some work. Don't get me wrong, I think it was almost perfect! I just thought it was odd that the main thing wouldn't happen until after the 50% mark. But then again, I think this happens with most books. So, I guess, I just wanted a bit more from the plot.
Yep, I liked it. That much is clear. There really wasn't anything I didn't like. CEO, please write fast! I NEED the next book! Aach!
Major thanks to #Netgalley for providing me a free e–copy in exchange for an honest review!
Full review posted to Goodreads
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