Thursday, 14 September 2017

Book Review: Flame in the Mist

About the book

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
Publication: May 16th, 2017
Pages: 416
Read: August 2017

My Copy

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Edition: Ebook
Purchase Location: NetGalley
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:

Goodreads Summary

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

My Spoiler Free Review

When I tried to get a copy of this book everybody was talking about it. The cover looks absolutely stunning so my interest was caught right away. And the summary sounded pretty decent, too. I LOVE Mulan and it’s one of my favourite Disney stories so I had some expectations for this book to meet. It still took me a few weeks to finally start reading this after receiving a copy (due to the stressful time I had been going through with Uni and my results and stuff).

From the beginning on I was quite confused and had some difficulties remembering who was who and which characters were supposed to be the good guys / bad guys. I also didn’t really appreciate all the instant changes of point of views. I barely had enough time to register one character when we were already reading from somebody else’s view. Those povs were kind of tumbling in on themselves.

And the probably most important reason that made it so hard for me to enjoy reading Flame in the Mist: I do not like the protagonist. I find Mariko annoying and quite unreliable and she just simply did not make it easy for me to like her. (More about this in the spoilery part.)

I know that I’m one of the very few who did not really enjoy this book and I hope that all of you who still have it on their tbr will love it! It just didn’t have the wow-effect on me that I wish it had. Me not liking this book can definitely be blamed on the rough time I went through when I read it. I do plan on continuing with the series when the sequel gets out because I think it’s an interesting plot, it just didn’t fit me at the time and I hope I’ll enjoy it better if I re-read it one day.

My favourite quote from the book is very inspiring and I love it!
Okami: “I deny being a slave to any one thing. In any situation we can choose who we are and choose who we want to be.” - p.265

The Part That Might Contain Spoilers

Back to the part where I don’t like Mariko. I questioned every single decision she made starting with the very first (and probably most irrational) one; to follow the Black Clan although she thought of them as dangerous murderers. Let’s face it, if they were exactly how she imagined them, she wouldn’t have survived 5 minutes with them.

And I couldn’t take it seriously that NOBODY noticed she wasn’t a boy. If I remember correctly she should be around 17 years old and at that age you can see a woman’s feature very accentuated in a girl’s face , so why didn’t any of the guys look at her close enough? But I decided to let it be and find myself at peace with this because Mulan also managed to hide that (and it’s also kind of bothering me there so…).

Also I kind of feel like there were not enough character developments in the story..? Basically the only ones that really “changed” were Mariko, her brother and Okami. All the others just had hidden background stories that came to light to mark who they were, but they didn’t evolve throughout the pages...

In the sequel I would very much like to see more of the bromance between Takeda Ranmaru and Okami because that’s true friendship right there. And I want to know more about their history. Although this might seem like a very negative review (and I apologise if it really does come across like that), I hope to see the sequel perform better and that Ahdieh digs a little deeper into the characters’ feelings. This is my first time reading a book by her and I’m not sure how this makes me feel about The Wrath and the Dawn series that’s still on my tbr…

I'd like to know

Have you read Flame in the Mist? I’d love to hear what you think about the book! Or do you know any of Renee Ahdieh’s other works? This actually reminds me that I really need to rewatch Mulan again! Anybody with me?