{Blog Tour | Review | Excerpt |Giveaway} THE BOYS OF ASH AND FIRE by Meaghan McIsaac

» 16 May, 2015 » 3 star Review, Blog Tour » 2 comments

{Blog Tour | Review | Excerpt |Giveaway} THE BOYS OF ASH AND FIRE by Meaghan McIsaac

{Blog Tour | Review | Excerpt |Giveaway} THE BOYS OF ASH AND FIRE by Meaghan McIsaacTHE BOYS OF FIRE AND ASH by Meaghan McIsaac
Published by Delacote Books For Young Readers on May 12th, 2015
three-stars
Abandoned at birth, the Brothers of the Ikkuma Pit know no mothers. They fend for themselves, each training their Little Brother to survive until they turn sixteen, when it’s their Leaving Day. No boy knows what’s beyond the forest. But when Urgle’s Little Brother, Cubby, is carried off by troll-like predators, Urgle and two of his Brothers embark on a quest to rescue him from a place from which no one has ever returned

 

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Debut novels can prove to be the huge breakthrough for authors leading to recognition and better stage for your career. Debut novels can also become a lesson and learning opportunity on the craft of writing. Not every book is going to come off as a winner, but the creation and process of a book should always be acknowledged. In The Boys of Fire and Ash, by Meaghan Mcisaac, potential is there for all to see, its just the execution that was a little bit off.

Taking inspiration from The Lord of Flies and Maze Runner, this book focuses on the adventures of a secluded group of boys and their interactions with the world around them. The boy’s are called The Brothers of the Ikkuma Pit and basically the boys are left in the pit by means they do not know. The older boys assign within themselves “Big Brother” roles, meaning they sort of adopt a newly found boy and are in charge of their well being. There world is a dystopian land filled with strange beings and enemies for them to discover. When reading this book you really get a sense of the novel wanting to discover the intrigue of Maze Runner, but ultimately failing to produce that uniqueness. The plot of the novel is an intriguing storyline and has potential to be a good story. However, the characters, dialogue, and overall feel of the book seem to let it down.

In the case of the characters, none really bring out any emotions when reading. They all fill out the cliche roles we see in coming of age novels. Urgle, embodies the fledgling main character who has to rise up and defeat a huge problem and overcome his insecurities. The rest of the characters stick to their roles as bullies, prodigal best friends, and villains. Character development in a novel is crucial when it comes to presenting the emotion and feel to your readers. Also the dialogue between characters seems forced and predictable not helping readers truly understand these characters. Another thought when reading this book was the slow and choppy storyline. Now it’s clear why the author laid out her story to really show the revealing information down the line in the story. But with characters they don’t really engage the readers and provide them with reasons to continue reading and look deeper in the story. A reader can be left confused and wondering about the characters who appear and have nothing but stories within the novel to explain.

Overall, this book shows potential to be a really nice novel. However, there are just too many aspects in the book that feel missing or diminished. While you can see the effort in creating this world, the flair needed to provide a mental visual of the world is missing. As a reader you want to be able to visualize the book in your mind and have the ability to dream your version of the world. For young boys around the ages of 9-13, this novel may fulfill the basic imagination needs for young boys. For the rest however, there simply isn’t enough there.

Joshua


AboutAuthormeaghan_pic(1)

I write books for middle grade and young adult. I read them too. I used to draw a bit. When I was nine, I drew comics about a bird family who had a fuzzy orange caterpillar for a dog. They never ate him. After that, I gave a lot of embarrassing performances in my high school’s musicals. I believe I stomped my foot when I messed up a line once. So I gave up on acting and decided to stick to telling stories. I packed up and left for the UK where I did my Master’s in children’s writing at the University of Winchester. Now I’m back in Toronto, reading and writing. I have one noisy beagle and one lab who doesn’t stop eating. My first favourite book was Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville. I have since added a lot more favourites to my collection. They take up most of the living room.

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Excerpt

I can still remember the pain. The crumbling bits of rock of the Ikkuma pit walls pressed hard against my naked back. I remember because I was mad, so mad, at my Big Brother.

‘Time’s come, Urgs,’ he’d said. ‘Little one’s been dropped by the South Wall. Gotta make room.’

He’d told me that morning, and by dinner time he was gone. But not before showing me where to go. Scared and nervous, I went with him to the South Wall, and he pointed to the tree line, where Nikpartok peeked over the Ikkuma Pit.

‘They left him there,’ Cheeks had said.

I was terrified. I’d only just turned seven and could barely throw a spear.

‘No sense wasting time,’ he said, slapping me on the back. ‘Now get on up there and keep an eye on him.’

Cheeks was anxious, eager to get going, to finally Leave. He’d been planning to go for months, but he couldn’t. I wasn’t ready yet. I was still useless, so he had to put off his Leaving Day longer than he wanted. And here I was again, holding him up.

‘Don’t be so useless, Urgle!’ he said, pushing me up to the wall. ‘Get moving!’

So I did. I climbed up the South Wall, the highest I’d ever been, and stopped just before the top. I remembered looking out, the A-Frame just a brown pock on the black floor of my home, my Big Brother, Cheeks, barely visible as he made his way to the North…to his new life outside the Ikkuma Pit.

And then I heard it.

Just above me I could hear the cries of the little squirt, his raspy, phlegm warble screeching for the monster of a woman that had abandoned him here. I risked a peek, even though my Big Brother had specifically told me not to.

‘One night, Urgs,’ is what he’d said after he’d discovered the new arrival. ‘If he makes it through the night, he’s all yours. If not, then he’s not Ikkuma anyway. Don’t let him know you’re there. He’ll cry all the more if he thinks someone’s nearby.’

I peeked, anyway. I’d never listened to my Big Brother before, so what did it matter now? He’d abandoned me. I was the Big Brother – well, I would be – and I didn’t have to listen to anybody.

A tiny soiled bundle of cloth fidgeted in the undergrowth of Nikpartok forest. I’d never been that close to the tree line, and I remember how scared I was that some predator would come and gobble me up.

The crying stopped and the baby lay silent.

Was he dead? I didn’t know. And the idea that I’d have to leave the safety of the Pit to find out made me nearly wet myself.

Then he howled. The baby screamed and cried, demand­ing somebody, anybody, pick him up.

But this was his test. The first night their Mothers aban­doned them on the fringes of the Pit, was a night they spent alone. If they survived, they were Ikkuma and adopted by their Big Brother. If not – I didn’t really know.

The day drew on and I made myself comfortable, pressed up against the South Wall. My eyes grew heavy, and I slept to the sound of the baby’s lonely cries.

By morning, I heard nothing. I awoke to silence and felt my heart stop. Was he dead? If the baby died, then I’d be no Big Brother…But my Big Brother had left…so I wouldn’t be anyone’s Little Brother. What would happen to me? I’d be all alone. Who knows how long it would take for another baby to be left for me?

Then I heard a snort – big animal – a predator come to feast on the baby.

I held my breath and peeked over the top of the South Wall and saw the most massive beast I’d ever seen. My little imagination couldn’t have dreamed up something so large. It stood on all fours, and its body was covered in a soft, black fur. An Ashen Bear. It circled the baby, its black nose sniffing and probing.

I looked around for blood, staining his snout, the ground, the blankets, but there was nothing. Then a giggle. The baby squealed with delight as the giant bear sniffed at his face. He’d survived the night at least. He was Ikkuma all right…if the bear didn’t kill him now. Then the bear reared back and sat against a tree, licking her lips and scratching her belly. The baby continued to giggle and the bear let out a low sound that to me, sounded like a growl.

‘Please don’t eat him,’ I whispered.

In that instant, her big, shiny eyes were on me. My heart stopped. How could I have opened my mouth?

The bear sniffed the baby again, then nuzzled him, like a Mother caring for her cub. She looked back to me, then waddled her giant form back into the cover of the trees until there was nothing left of her to see.

Trembling, I bolted from my hiding place and ran for the giggling baby.

Twigs snapped to my left, more to my right. The bear was out there. There could be more…or something else, any­thing else entirely. The forest was watching, ready to pounce and the baby was inches from my outstretched fingers.

The ground slipped out from under me and I fell, scraping my palms and my knees. I lay with my face in the dirt, listening to the silence and begging my pounding heart to slow down.

A quiet cooing tickled my ears and I turned my face to see a pair of big green eyes looking back. His mouth was open in a wide, toothless smile, and his skinny fingers reached for me. He was mine.

I sat up and pulled him into my arms. He was so small and floppy, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could place him down in the middle of the wild. He was silent in my arms and rested his head against my chest. I hugged him close and my cheek brushed his fuzzy blond head. He was my Little Brother. And I would name him Cubby.

2 Responses to “{Blog Tour | Review | Excerpt |Giveaway} THE BOYS OF ASH AND FIRE by Meaghan McIsaac”

  1. DebraG

    I would like to see the past. There are many things I have questions about and seeing would satisfy my curiosity.