The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

February 16, 2015 Reviews 3 ★★★★

The Fire Sermon by Francesca HaigThe Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig
Published: February 23rd 2015 by HarperVoyager
Format: ARC, 423 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Goodreads BooktopiaBookworld
4 Stars

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega. Nobody.

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.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they're not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

The Fire Sermon is the first book in what promises to be an exciting post-apocalyptic series. Well executed and action-filled, it will grip readers from the first page.

The most striking aspect of this novel is its world-building. Humanity has changed in the 400 years since The Blast – a poorly understood cataclysmic event that I assume was a nuclear detonation – and now everyone is born with a twin. Of these twins there is always an Alpha child and an Omega child. The Alpha children are perfect, but their twins are born with genetic deformities. Omegas are believed to be the price to be paid for the perfect Alpha babies: the poison and sickness from the Blast contained in one twin so that the other can be healthy. But things are complicated by the fact that the twins die in pairs – Alphas are forced to take care of the Omega population so that they don’t die off themselves.

It’s an extremely interesting world, and I think Haig does a wonderful job of exploring the implications of the twins and their link. The social structure is well through-out and feels organic, as does the horrible and ambitious plan the Alpha Council has set up. It’s not comfortable to think of humanity being so callous about the Omegas and their place in the world but it feels honest. Although the landscape the book is set on is unrecognisable as Australia, I liked the small nods to Australia that the author includes in the book.

The world-building sets up an exciting plot where Cass is on the run from the Alphas because she is an Omega seer. She was born without any physical deformities, but she has visions of the past and future and can sense things that others can’t. Cass is imprisoned by the Alphas and manages to escape with Kip, a boy who can’t remember anything before he met her. Cass is a likeable character in the first parts of the book – strong willed, skilled in surviving in the wilderness, and determined to set her world to rights. However, she doesn’t exhibit any character growth throughout the novel, which was disappointing. She’s set in her opinions and doesn’t change her outlook for anyone or anything.

The second half of the book didn’t live up to the action and drama of the first half. It wasn’t the slower pace that dragged this part down, but rather Cass’s stubborn nature and the introduction of a few bland characters. I’d guessed the big reveal about Kip’s past pretty early on and this part of the book, which essentially leads up to the reveal, was less engaging for me.

The Fire Sermon is a great example of post-apocalyptic fiction blended with fantastical elements. I enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to continuing the series, and hopefully seeing Cass grow a little. I recommend this book to fans of The Hunger Games and Legend.

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