Fate of Flames is the first in a YA series about teen girls fighting mysterious monsters in an alternate, contemporary Earth with the power of the elements and has a dash of diversity.
This mission was my chance. My chance to save people. To make something of myself. To make up for everything.
Effigies. Girls, chosen by fate to battle the monsters – Phantoms – that attack their world. Maia was just a normal girl, a geek, and totally obsessed with the Effigies, especially one Belle Rousseau.
But when the current fire effigy, Natalya, kills herself, Maia is chosen as her successor. Maia is unprepared to work alongside the other three effigies, unprepared to fight Phantoms and the mysterious boy that can control them, and unprepared to discover that Natalya just might have been killed by the very organization Maia now works for.
You know how sometimes a book sounds so awesome that you put off reading it because you have this idea in your head that it can’t be as good as it sounds and you would almost rather not read it than find out you hate it? Yeah, I needn’t have worried. While this book isn’t perfect, it’s a lot of fun.
Maia is, honestly, the weakest link in the story for me. I would have loved to have a cycling narrator, where each chapter is from one of the different girls. That being said, because we are always inside Maia’s head, we really get to see her grow and develop. While I didn’t much care for her at the beginning (she spends way too big a portion of the first half of the book not wanting this) by the end of the story I was having to give her some respect.
None of these characters are perfect. They are all very human and it’s interesting to see the way they deal with the pressure. I mean, four girls (ranging in age from sixteen to nineteen, I think) have to fight monsters. Yeah, they do have some mundane backup, but it’s these girls that save the day on numerous occasions. And there are under a ton of stress.
The girls start off not liking each other, but they are never mean or bitchy, which, sad to say, is a definite danger for books with several important girls. There’s never putdowns or insults. They treat each other well and respect each other. And they are all so different, have different personalities and strengths, but can all be heroes.
Wtf is everyone’s deal? What is with this barebones, commercialized, overly simplistic faux-feminist perception of gurl power? Like a girl has to be able to murder giants without batting an eye before anyone can see her as strong?
(When I read that comment on the effigy message board, I knew I’d adore this book a little.)
I also appreciate how Maia kind of has a love interest. Or, at least, there’s this guy that she kind of likes, but she’s not obsessed with him. He doesn’t take over her life. She’s more interested in being an effigy, in making friends with the others, in solving the mystery of Natalya death, than she is in chasing him. I also bears a mention that there are a couple other guys of an appropriate age that she interacts with, but she has zero romantic (or even, friendly) interest in them because she’s creeped out by both of them. (And here’s hoping it stays the same in the sequel!)
Content Advisory: Fairly tame except for Maia suffering from PTSD. She has a couple panic attacks and is set off by fire – but nothing seems particularly graphic.