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Tell the Wind and Fire (2016)

by Sarah Rees Brennan

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24823103,946 (3.66)4
In this near-future retelling of the Dickens classic "A Tale of Two Cities," a deadly revolution breaks out in a New York City divided by light and dark magic.

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Actual rating: 4.5/5

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

I really enjoyed reading this book! I loved how the author managed to tackle serious themes like equality, minority rights and social change by seamlessly including them in a fantasy retelling of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (which I really want to read now, btw).

At first, I struggled a bit to connect with Lucie as a character. I guess I just couldn't figure her out. Which in the end, I realised, was exactly the right reaction for me to have. Lucie is a girl who has witnessed so much darkness in her life, that it has marked her forever, even if she eventually manages to move to the Light part of the city, which is where all the wealthiest and most powerful people live. But even though she is relatively secure in her new status, Lucie knows everything could be taken from her in the blink of an eye, and she and everyone she loves would be back in the Dark - or worse. This constant conflict between the Lucie who has suffered and clings onto her safety, and the one who doesn't forget her humanity and fights until the end for those she loves, was what made it difficult for me to completely understand her at first, and also what made me love her so much as a character by the end of the book.

Several things happen throughout the book, including numerous murders, abductions and a revolution, so I guess you could focus on the action-y part of the story and get lost in it, and that would be perfectly fine. It's a good storyline, with enough action and suspence to keep you glued to the pages. But, for me, this book was about a lot more than just its plot. It was a delicate-yet-gut-wrenching critique of society, of just how easy it is sometimes to get lost in propaganda, to unload all the world's troubles on a single group, forgetting our common status as humans.

This book definitely gave me a lot to think about, both through the storyline and through the individual characters. Lucie is definitely the one that will stick with me the most, because she is probably the one that most represents all of us throughout her development: moving from blind acceptance because she fears losing everything she has worked for up to her fierce determination in fighting an unjust system to protect her loved ones and the weakest who have no one else to fight for them, Lucie is a remarkable example of character development.

Definitely a highly recommended book, and one I will gladly re-read as soon as I get a chance!

For this and more reviews, visit Book for Thought. ( )
  bookforthought | Nov 7, 2023 |
I'm a little torn on this book. I like the concept of the Tale of Two Cities (although, since I haven't read the original, it was lost on me). I'm not 100% sold on the realities of the world she creates here -- too black and white, too extreme and the logic for the divide is not all that convincing, but there is a fine and fierce young woman narrator, a certain amount of sarcastic and delightful dialogue, and a pleasantly convoluted plot. I enjoyed it.

Advanced reader copy provided by Edelweiss. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
[b:Tell the Wind and Fire|16221851|Tell the Wind and Fire|Sarah Rees Brennan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1437574267s/16221851.jpg|22202789]
Author: [a:Sarah Rees Brennan|836009|Sarah Rees Brennan|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1254149255p2/836009.jpg]
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
368 Pages
Publication date: 4/05/2016
*This review based on Advanced Readers Copy provided by publisher in exchange for a fair review.*

In the future, New York is a city divided. Those living in the Light side of the city enjoy wealth and opulence, while those in the Dark struggle to survive. Armed guards and a wall keep Light divided from Dark. A revolutionary group, sans-merci, wants to bring down the Light, to free the Dark from oppression, and they are willing to use any means to accomplish their goals. The penalty for aiding the sans-merci is steep. Treason is punishable by instant death at the hands of the Light Guard.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark city, but her father was from the Light. She gained celebrity when she was allowed to move from Dark New York to the Light. One night while travelling home, her boyfriend is pulled off the train by the Light Guard and accused of treason. Lucie must think fast to save her boyfriend's life. Help comes from an unexpected stranger, and her life will never be the same.

Tell the Wind and Fire is a modern re-telling of A Tale of Two Cities. Sarah Rees Brennan does an excellent job of giving the story a new, magical twist. Her book is just as emotional as Dickens' classic. I was left with tears in my eyes as the story came to a close. Enjoyable read!!

This book will be released on April 5th, 2016.

My rating: 8/10
Middle-Grade Fiction
Ages 12
( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
Excellent! It would be perfect for readers who like:
*swoon worthy romances
*underground revolutionaries/untidy political resolutions
*smart/independent/messy teen girl protagonists who make mistakes and learn stuff and set boundaries and are generally amazing
*evil twins

I loved the characters and the writing is beautiful, painting a vivid picture of an art deco-ish New York. There's a mix of sparkly glamorous magic and bloody conflict that works on many levels, and the story manages to feel timeless and really immediate at the same time. Highly recommend!

Thoughts before reading:
I intended to try and read Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities before this book came out, but then I got approved for an eARC and, sorry, Sarah Rees Brennan writes things I almost always love unreservedly. I couldn't wait to start the ARC, so I'm probably going to miss lots of excellent allusions and stuff. In my defense, I bet there are many teens who also haven't read it, so I'll know what I'm getting them into. In conclusion: !!! ( )
  bookbrig | Oct 26, 2020 |
I probably ought to start out by stating that I am kind of a big Sarah Rees Brennan fan.

It would be a problem if I felt like my literary preferences could ever be a problem, but I knew going into this that I was going to really like it or be horrifyingly let down because of how high my hopes were.

Fortunately, it ended up being the former and not the latter.

I somehow, perhaps because I may possibly have insta-clicked when I saw the author, knew almost nothing about this going in, and certainly did not realize it bears some intentional resemblances to another story. For the sake of having the same nifty realization moments that I had, I'm not going to mention which story, but it tied together really well and genuinely felt like it was worth of its predecessor, which I loved.

The characters were actually well-done, and I enjoyed that, for all that everything seems very black and white (and is certainly painted as such for a bit), that is certainly not so. I'd never expect such from this particular author, but it is always nice to see a book where in the end I kind of understand everyone and am fully aware that there is no real way I am going to be completely happy about the ending. Please note the difference between being happy with the ending (I was very pleased with it) and happy about the ending--it could not have ended any other way, I feel, but it was a rough ride.

The titular arc words were quite beautiful, and I loved them coming back again and again. The strength they personified throughout this family was inspiring and made me smile every time, even when I was actually upset about what caused their repetition.

Lucie is a bit divisive for me: I understand her quite a bit, but her view on things is occasionally oddly simplistic given her background. She does learn from her mistakes, though not always in time, and I liked that. The only thing I couldn't quite forgive her for was her love interest, who is a Nice Guy. I like nice guys as love interests, I honestly do--I've never been a "bad boy" kind of girl. My problem here is that I don't really know that much else about him. He's really...nice? And he does nice stuff. To be nice to her.

Fortunately, the focus is more properly on the plot and less on the romance, or this might not be getting the score it is getting from me just because of that.

As far as I can tell, this is a stand-alone novel, which I appreciate in these days of sequels and prequels and sidequels and all the other bits and pieces we get of a universe. It has a solid beginning and a solid ending. It doesn't need more to finish the story in a satisfactory way.

Having said that, however, if the author ever wishes to revisit her very divided New York, I would certainly be willing to poke my head back in and see what is going on there...

This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Hyzie | May 29, 2019 |
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"Tell the Wind and Fire where to stop... but don't tell me."
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
This work is most respectfully dedicated to C.D.
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It was the best of times until it was the worst of times.
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In this near-future retelling of the Dickens classic "A Tale of Two Cities," a deadly revolution breaks out in a New York City divided by light and dark magic.

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