Title: Fire Country (The Country Saga #1)
Author: David Estes
Genre: YA Dystopian/Science Fiction
Description from Goodreads:
In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer’s even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely.
Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.
Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with.
As the desert sands run out on her life’s hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.
Date I Finished Reading: July 10, 2013
My Rating: 4 of 5
My Review: (also on Goodreads, Amazon):
David Estes, if you are not aware of his work, is a VERY prolific writer. For the past few years he has found the time to write full time and produce three different YA series…that’s write, not just three books, three trilogies (and a children’s series as well). That’s A LOT of writing!
I have not read any of his first series, I read the first book – Moon Dwellers – and gave it three stars. It was an interesting premise and I could relate to the characters, but I will admit I was not interested enough to finish the series (at least I wasn’t before). When I heard about the newer series and the premise of the first book – Fire Country – I was intrigued enough to check it out.
I am very, very glad I did.
As a writer I personally know that only one thing should happen the more you write – your writing will get better. I submit as exhibit A, Fire Country.
I can’t even begin to imagine where David thought of the idea for this story, but it is wonderful…full of conflict, humor, spirit, and heart. There are great characters that serve a purpose in the story, powerful and sometimes witty dialogue, and one of my favorite things about David’s writing, FANTASTIC world building! He sets the story in a setting that we can visualize in our mind, including specific dialect, mannerisms and customs. I really felt like I was with the Heaters, little tugs around my feet, the Sun Goddess searin’ down on me.
Sie is a strong female character, trying to avoid her female responsibility that is forth-coming. She wants to hold true to the laws and traditions of her people, the Heaters, but the hatred of her father and her inner instincts help lead her on a journey to discover truths about what is really happening and how it affects her. The story has very good pacing (though seems rushed at the end) and takes time to build up our investment in what is going to happen. Very easy to turn the pages!
My major problem with the book is also one of it’s strengths – so many different groups of people to keep track of. Mr. Estes is teasing us for future things to come so he can’t give away everything about the different groups, but I felt toward the end of the book the story was rushing to get done. A specific group is introduced towards the end, but we don’t learn as much about them as we could have to make us feel closer to the story.
There are also some instances of “isn’t that convenient”, specifically towards the end of the book, but nothing overly damning to the author. In particular, I found the change in Sie’s father to be fairly forced and not necessarily believable, but it played well with the story so I was okay with it.
Strong characters, hints of romance, lots of action, and twists and turns that draw a nice conclusion while also setting up for the future books. Four out of Five stars for making me care and keeping me engaged. Great job Mr. Estes, keep ’em coming!
PS – Now I am in it for the long haul and HAVE to read the 2nd and 3rd book in the Dweller Series. David wrote the trilogy Dweller Series, then the trilogy Country Series, then will have a seventh book (called the Earth Dwellers) that serves as a finale for both trilogies, bringing characters and worlds together. Very, very intriguing and one heck of an accomplishment!