Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan Review: Light Vs. Dark Vs. Aila Yawning

March 14, 2016 by Aila J. | ARC Reviews, Books, DNF, Reviews

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan Review: Light Vs. Dark Vs. Aila YawningTell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by Clarion Books on April 5th 2016
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy & Magic
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Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

The premise of this book, which is a YA retelling of A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, features the conflicting sides of light versus dark. The winning factor of it all, in my opinion, is my YAWN, which is ultimately why I could not go on with this book. I’ve sectioned out the main factors on why I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, which came out to be the first DNF YA read for me this year. I think that when you reach the point where you’re struggling to stay awake to continue reading (and it’s not past 3 am or so), then clearly you and the book are just not working out. And so unfortunately, I could not continue past 38% of the book.

From the very beginning, my poor reader mind was infiltrated by a copious amount of info-dumping, which made me bored to death.

Beginning from about 2% of the book, the information being introduced continues on until 20% of the book. If I couldn’t handle it in the first couple of pages, how do you expect me to handle it in the next chapters? There is a glorious monologue by the golden girl, Lucie, who can’t seem to shut up. The world is very banal: Dark side (evil people) are up against the Light side (who are supposedly good). I’m still unsure why it took multiple chapters to get that drilled into readers’ heads.

When someone young was dying, a Dark magic ritual could save them, but the ritual created an exact double. I had heard the horror stories, heard people say that the ritual gave Death itself a young, sweet face and let it walk among us.

(On the topic of doppelgangers.)

The main character Lucie isn’t a Mockingjay! Or Divergent! Or a survivor! She’s… The Golden Thread in the Dark.

I am unsure how close this stands to the original story, as I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities, but Lucie is yet another symbol of rebellion (as is so often seen in YA literature). She is the girl who single-handedly stepped into cages filled with people and healed them, including her father. Now there is a rebellion fighting for her name, which makes her very special. Rather than hearing it from Lucie’s narration, I would have much preferred to have seen these things happening. We basically get a wrap-up of it in the beginning.

I looked like the symbol of what all Light magic should be. I looked right, and my image was captured on dozens of cameras. The Light Council could not get rid of me, not when the world was watching.

The romance made me want to back away slowly and erase my memory of it.

I’m glad I stopped reading before the potential love triangle developed any further! One between brothers is particularly cringe-worthy, but one between a guy and his doppelganger? No thank you. Lucie kind of represents both Dark and Light magic (as her parents are one of each), and she is stuck between choosing the Dark side (the doppelganger) or the Light side (her original boyfriend, Ethan). Who will she save? *cue dramatic music*

Even if that weren’t annoying enough, Lucie’s constant declarations of her love for Ethan became quite tiring after the, oh I don’t know, fifth one.

I loved him because he was the best and sweetest thing in my life, because being with him was always something I could look forward to, and because he made a new life for me and gave it to me as a gift, for no reason other than that he loved me back.
Anyone would love him, but I do not know if anyone could love him as much as I do.

Wait, what was the plot again?

Well, there sure wasn’t one by the time I stopped! It seems as if things were getting a bit exciting though, what with a rebellion group of Dark siders rising up against the Light. The age-old question of: Can the dark really be good? is also introduced. But I’ve been there, done that, too many times to count and this really didn’t stand out from the others.

I skimmed the last 10% of the story and saw that yeah, some exciting things happened. After reading the ending and the Author’s Note, I thought that the book left a poignant message – that is, after you get past the massively boring beginning. I can see why readers would appreciate it, but WOW reading my history textbook was more interesting than the first fifth of this book.

I was not a fan of the narration, to put it simply.

It was told in a very dramatic way that might appeal to some readers, but unfortunately, just grated on my nerves. Lucie’s first person POV tries desperately to be suspenseful, although it certainly didn’t have the desired effect on me (unless it was supposed to make me reel back with a scowl).

Happiness is self-sabotage, a mean trick that your own mind plays on you. It makes you careless, makes you lose your grip, and once you lose your grip, you lose everything.

Lucie’s character felt very repetitive, as she constantly restated the same points over and over again, which got real tiring, real quick. Ethan could be a bag of rice for all I care (which is not much. I mean, I don’t pay attention to rice bags often) because of his bland character. Although there are some cute, snarky moments with the doppelganger Carlwyn, I found his expression of the “Dark side” to be too hackneyed to really enjoy the character. I just couldn’t get into this book with this disconnect of characters and discordance with narration.

Good people are always ready to die for a good reason.

(I don’t need you to teach me life lessons Lucie oh my gosh just get on with the plot!!)

What in the world was even the world in this?

So we know this takes place in New York, in an alternate future. But in a scene we have the characters thrusting out… swords? There’s a Light Council, and there is a sect of Guards. Magical weapons like rings and swords are used. Supposedly light was discovered. But there is also technology too, like trains. I was honestly confused and unwilling to learn more about it because of the info-dumps. At some point I was just like “byeee.”

When the French scientist Louis de Breteuil discovered Light, he lit the world, changing and illuminating everything. Light replaced old and crude technologies with power that transformed a world.


I’m really quite sorry that I didn’t finish this one! From the beginning, the melodramatic narration and copious amount of information presented to readers may instantly induce yawns. Following that, the repetitive main character and unappealing side characters, whom are more boring than a stick of butter, deliver a combo-attack on yawns. The plot that was going nowhere by the first third of the book just sealed the deal. This book may have been exploring the Light side against the Dark side, but in the end my yawns just KO’d all of them out the door.

Rating: Did Not Finish

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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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22 responses to “Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan Review: Light Vs. Dark Vs. Aila Yawning

  1. ah, this is too bad, i was looking forward to this book. i read a little bit of brennan's unspoken and while it was fun, it did feel a a bit juvenile. it was something my younger self would have like i think, but something that i now, at 21 and having read a much wider selection of YA, found a bit tired. i wonder if it is the same way with this new book.

  2. I've not had any good luck with this author's work in the past, to be honest. And it sounds like this is one of those books that I will have a tough time getting into as well. The problem for me is that I've not read A Tale of Two Cities, so it might just not be for me.

  3. Oh man Aila, I'm so glad you warned me to avoid this one! The bland characters, info dumps, uninspired plot and that romance…oh my gosh I totally cringed when I read that quote that you put in. Nuh uh, thanks for the honest review!

    • Thanks Lekeisha! Yeah, I think that you could use time to read better books rather than this one haha. Although some people enjoyed the book as it went along, I just COULDN'T stick through that cumbersome beginning.

  4. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    Oooh boy. This does not sound like something I'd enjoy at all… melodrama, info-dumping,… *backs away quietly*

    • LOL I DON'T BLAME YA BIEKE. Some readers enjoyed the latter half of the book (I'm guessing that's when the plot actually moves along), but I just couldn't get through it. Save your time for something better.

  5. Yeah you're definitely not alone with this book. Pretty much every review I've seen has mentioned the same issues as you did. The romance especially sounds like a disaster. And of course the no plot and the weird world building. I'm glad this one never appealed to me! But at least you were able to DNF it instead of continuing with a shitty book!
    Sorry this didn't work for you, Aila! 🙁
    My recent post Review: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

    • Oh yeah, DNFing this one definitely took a load off my chest.
      I'm also glad to see I'm not alone! I know lots of other readers liked the latter half of the book, but I just couldn't go on. I'm shaking my head just THINKING about the romance (lol) and all that information shoved in my head. Good thing this one never appealed to you in the first place, hehe. 😛

    • LOL yes, I try to keep my negative reviews relatively light and humorous. :') Which is kind of at odds at how sad I am when a book turns out to be a dud.

      But yeah, the summary really drew me in, I just don't think the execution was enough for me to stay attentive. YA tropes and that info-dump just made it a snooze fest.

  6. Ugh, I remember you hating this one so much when you read it. I'm so glad you DNFed it because it does sound yawn-inducing. The extended info-dump would definitely be off-putting. How can you be expected to be engaged when it's all one huge info-dump from the very beginning?! UGH. I'm erasing this book from my mind.


      But seriously, I need my action. I need to SEE the characters do things rather than HEAR about it through what they're saying. I DON'T NEED THE NARRATOR TO TELL ME 'GOOD PEOPLE DIE FOR A GOOD REASON.' Get outta here main character!

  7. I saw so many people DNF'd this book and I could totally see why. Tha characters are so plain and the world-building was pretty meh to me. It did get better in the last third of the book, but not enough to redeem it. It was Rees Brennan's weakest book by a mile. Such a shame, after that gorgeous cover…

    • For real girl! That cover is just heart-eyes. 🙂

      I'm glad it got better in the last third of the book for you though. I hear from many reviewers that the latter half of the book was pretty good, but the beginning just couldn't retain my attention (sighh).

    • Thanks so much Kara! I'm kind of bummed out too. :') I'm much more of an action-lover, and prefer SEEING things rather than hearing about them, ya feel?

      But I totally see why this would appeal to you! The cover IS absolutely gorgeous and if you don't mind info-dumping, definitely give this one a try!

  8. corrallingbooks

    Damn, Aila, I really hope you find a better book soon! :/ The premise sounds interesting to me – it's such a pity you didn't like it!! :/
    I DNF'ed A Tale of Two Cities to be honest, but when you mentioned it was like A Tale of Two Cities, I was already eager, hoping to read this book to kind of familiarise myself with it, if that makes sense? So that A Tale of Two Cities is easier to read when I try it again.
    But ugh, it really doesn;t sound like my kind of book, now that you've reviewed it!
    Thanks so much for reviewing, as always, Aila! <3
    My recent post Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

    • Thanks so much Geraldine! Fortunately enough, I'm excited about my next read hehe.

      It's my pleasure to write this review! (And kinda give you guys a warning lol.) I totally get it when you say you want to familiarize yourself with it. Whenever I see a book based on something that I have background information on, it's always pretty exciting! But this one… well, let's just say that even if I had read A Tale of Two Cities and liked it (which I don't think I would tbh), I wouldn't have continued on.

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