Fire City Paperback – 30 Aug 2012
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"Rai never shies away from difficult topics, and here tackles the controversial issue of honour killings. It's utterly compelling, and will be much-debated." (Fiona Noble The Bookseller)
"... a gritty read... The different naratives add to the intrigue and the plot moves along at a rapid rate." (Vanessa Lewis The Bookseller)
About the Author
Bali Rai has now written eight young adult novels for Random House Children's Books. His first, (un)arranged marriage, created a huge amount of interest and won many awards including the Angus Book Award and the Leicester Book of the Year. It was also shortlisted for the prestigious Brandford Boase first novel award. Rani and Sukh and The Whisper were both shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize. Bali also writes the hugly popular Soccer Squad series for younger readers.
He was born in Leicester, where he still lives, writing full-time and visiting schools to talk about his books. www.balirai.co.uk
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The book starts off in Fire City home to Unwanted with a first person narrative as seen through the eyes of a driven teenage resistance fighter Martha who during a visceral battle with demons to save Hunted meets an enigmatic newcomer and contemporary Jonah; Martha is no slouch at killing lesser demons but this arrival is swifter and with better weaponry. There is an instant attraction which forms one of the plots in this many layered story.
Add to this a number of well portrayed characters. As examples; of the Resistance, mentor Mace a larger than life Father-figure; bitter and insecure Aron, Oscar and his gentle giant boyfriend Tyrell; amongst the collaborators Martha's snivelling step-father Mayor of Fire City and his brutal nominally bodyguard Stone, whose actual motivations are never truly made clear.
As for the demons these portrayed without whimsical traits or sardonically humorous asides, they are ugly, vicious, cruel and basically, well evil, you'll cheer every time one gets taken down, the lesser ones needing no more than a good old fashion blade to the vitals.
The narrative centres around not just the constant battle for survival of The Unwanted, but the motivations of Jonah and his catalytically dangerous actions which transmorph Survival in to Fight-Back. Nothing though is simple here; there are betrayals, surrenders, revelations and very oblique, short but compelling views into the world of The Wanted. This is woven into a fast, action driven, often gory and very unsettling tale, into which I was drawn very quickly. So much so that suddenly I noticed Martha was no longer around, and next time she appears being portrayed in Third Person, moving from Centre Stage to one of many interacting characters as we move to the very apocalyptic ending.
It would not be fair to go into more detail of the tale as that would give rise to spoilers. Suffice it to say this is a very good read for adults and teenagers alike by the nature of its description, concept of a horrific future and intelligent use of language and situations, even if as the DVD cases might say `This contains strong language, sexual references, and scenes of explicitly violent nature'.
There is also lots for discussion here. Has the author written a straightforward horrific fantasy or is this a metaphorical warning of the danger of using up the world's resources? Are these real demons or personifications of the potential greed of Global Capitalism? Are the teenagers future warriors or symbolic for the alienated and disaffected in our current society? As they used to say; `Discuss'
If I judge this by the number and nature of the loose ends the writer may be lining up at least one follow up volume, in which case I will be certainly watching out for it.
Really enjoyed this book, it was quick to get going and had many twists in the storyline. The idea behind the story is really interesting and is a different take on a devastated world and what I liked is that it doesn't have the normal zombie type feel to it. The range of dangers in the book is quite vast and it leaves you not knowing who the good or bads guys are. The characters are easy to like and the main ones have good background stories to them and they develop at a nice pace thoughout the book.
Bali Rai really has not shyed away from being as graphic as needed in various points of the book, leaving myself feeling a bit queasy at the thought of what was going on and the image it created in my head.
The book is well written and it looks to be a good series of books and I will definately be wanting to read the rest of the series.
The only downside of the book for me was there was almost too much going on at points with all of the various characters. It jumped around all of their perspectives' which unless your reading a good chunk of the book at once could leave you a little confused as to what happened a few chapters back. Really kept me on my toes trying to remember whats what and who was who.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone who is into this type of genre, it was definately well worth a read.
You're expected to grow up quick in the new world, or you don't survive. Martha may only be 15, but she's been a part of the resistance movement for years and regularly ventures out during the Hunt to save those humans at risk. But despite her skills, she only survives a demon attack when Jonah, a mysterious stranger, shows up and saves her life.
I thought the pace of "Fire City" slowed somewhat at times, but overall there is a good level of action with moments of horror, tension and despair. There are fantasy elements to this book, but on the whole "Fire City" is a dark, gritty struggle for survival against a seemingly far more powerful enemy. There are plenty of well fleshed out characters, plus a rich vivid description of the daily fight for survival the Unwanted face, plus detailed habits, abilities and appearances of a variety of demons. Jonah's heritage wasn't a surprise at all when it was revealed, but there is still plenty of mystery surrounding his personal quest.