Today, I’m reviewing Flame in the Mist over at Tynga’s Reviews! Check it out!
Today, I’m reviewing Flame in the Mist over at Tynga’s Reviews! Check it out!
I’m finally getting to review this wonderful book! Check it out over at Tynga’s Reviews!
I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews today writing about Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! Click the picture or here to read!
Lara Jean is approaching the end of her senior year. She and Peter are still happily together, and all of her classmates are planning their futures. Lara Jean has dreamed for years about going to the University of Virginia, with its classical architecture and picturesque library. Peter is already headed to UVA after signing with the lacrosse team, and Lara Jean can’t imagine a better future, especially since she’d be only fifteen minutes from home and still watching her little sister Kitty grow up. She does have a few other schools she’s applied to, but in her mind, nothing compares to UVA. Even her best friend Chris is planning on being untraditional and traveling somewhere to work like Costa Rica to explore and enjoy life while she’s young. It seems like everyone has the perfect future planned out, and Lara Jean is anxiously waiting on hers.
She’s also experiencing new changes in the rest of her life. Her father gets engaged to their neighbor and Lara Jean throws herself into wedding planning to keep herself distracted. However, when Lara Jean finally hears from UVA, she hasn’t been accepted and suddenly she doesn’t know where she’s going to go or whether she and Peter can stay together.
It’s our final story about Lara Jean *crying emoji!*. I’m terribly sad about it, but also because I don’t know what Jenny Han is going to write next! I love her books. What I love about this one is how every teen can relate to the feelings of uncertainty about their future–their college plans, their relationships if they decide to move away, the unknown possibilities that could occur. Plus, it all feels very real and heartfelt for Lara Jean and the turmoil she’s in at the end of senior year faced with some big life changes and the unknown. This novel has a lot of great advice for teens approaching this step in life without being about giving college advice. In fact, everyone in Lara Jean’s life sort of teaches her some truths, whether about her relationship, herself, or just good advice for the future.
One of the biggest hurdles in the book (and in the series) is her relationship with Peter. Though she and Peter have been together for quite some time (and gotten back together after the events of the last novel), this new unknown future has affected both of them. Their relationship, while important, may not survive. And Lara Jean’s mother once told her, don’t go to college with a boyfriend because you’ll lose out on a true freshman experience (Articles discussing the case in point: The Guardian, the Independent). When they were both potentially going to UVA, it was easy to see themselves being together, albeit with different lives led at college (lacrosse and fraternity for Peter, friends of her own for Lara Jean and studying at the library and on the grounds). However, Lara Jean’s other choices mean a long-distance relationship for much of the time, even when she is trying to convince herself to transfer to UVA soon after being accepted somewhere else. Plenty of teens have this battle where they know, realistically, their relationship may not survive the stress of being long-distance and/or they might meet someone better suited at college. However, as Lara Jean and Peter discover, it’s not up to others and their opinions. They are the two in the relationship and those decisions are up to them.
The ending was beautiful, and perfectly wraps up the series that began with a love letter by ending with another love letter.
This is also one of the few books out there that has racial diversity of an Asian American family but doesn’t deal with issues or a lens caused by race. It’s normal, and that’s great because just a few years ago, there were not books with racially different characters who didn’t have problems through a racial lens. Yay for #weneeddiversebooks.
In the conquered colony of Herran, Kestrel lives with her father, the renowned top general of the Valorian Empire, a strict man who is constantly gone fighting battles for the Emperor. Valoria had conquered Herran over ten years before and made its citizens slaves. Though Kestrel doesn’t like the slavery practice, Valorian rule has made this a fact of their society, but Kestrel has sympathies for the Herran since her nurse was one and she mothered her after her real mother died.
Since Kestrel is seventeen, she is rapidly approaching her future: whether she will join the military as her father wishes (despite not being very gifted in physical pursuits) or she must marry. When Kestrel attends a slave auction on accident, she somehow finds herself the owner of a beautiful yet defiant young man, later known as Arin. Her feeling of kinship with him grows as she finds herself drawn to his rebellious nature, and as they get closer, she discovers the price of buying him, a human being, might actually be a lot higher than she ever anticipated–an occurrence known as the winner’s curse.
Kestrel has escaped from Herran and the rising rebellion led by Arin and his associates and made it to the Empire where she’s brokered a deal for keeping Herran as a territory allowing them to govern themselves but pay tribute to the Empire while the Emperor and his forces concentrate on nearby Dacra. In exchange, Kestrel will be the bride of the young heir to the Empire, Verex. Rather than still considering herself loyal to the Empire, Kestrel only knows she would do anything to try and save Arin’s life, since he will be among the first to be killed in retribution from the Empire. The Emperor has congratulated himself in finding a suitable bride for his son, especially since she is the daughter of his esteemed general and friend, earning the love of the military and ensuring his soft son has a wife who is capable of diplomacy and shrewd calculation. However, when Arin comes for the nuptials, everything falls apart as Arin can’t understand Kestrel’s motives and compromises her cover, and Kestrel faces the possibility of her betrayal and potential death.
After Kestrel was sent to a work camp in the north for her betrayal of the Emperor, she is believed to be married to the prince and honeymooning until her unfortunate death. Meanwhile, Arin is preparing for war against Valoria until he discovers that Kestrel, whom he thought was using him, was actually his spy and was captured. Arin secretly steals away to rescue her, bringing her back a changed woman, one whose prison and resulting drug abuse has caused a mental affliction and she must relearn everything about herself and her memories. Arin is also learning to trust and lead his people and maintain the alliance with Dacra. Will they manage to defeat the Empire and gain freedom once and for all?
This was a solid series! I very much enjoyed reading it, and did so pretty quickly. It has a lot of action and romance while also having good world building and well-rounded characters. The ending was satisfying even if I thought it could have had more meat towards the end, especially with resolving Arin/Kestrel’s relationship and the ones with Prince Verex and their Dacran allies. This was mostly clean, and suitable for at least 8th grade and above. One of the best things I appreciated was how Kestrel grew up throughout the series. First she was fairly intimidated and scared of her father’s reaction, but she slowly learns to stand up for herself and what she believes in until the severe consequences no longer matter just so she can achieve what she believes is right. It’s very much a lesson in self-advocacy and coming-of-age.