THE BOYS OF FIRE AND ASH by Meaghan McIsaac
Published by Delacote Books For Young Readers on May 12th, 2015
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
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.
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.
5 Winners will each get a finished copy of THE BOYS OF FIRE AND ASH.
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