Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Book One of the Effigies series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Rating: 2 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.
When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.
But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.
Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.
Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.
Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?
What I Liked:
I didn't totally dislike this book, but I had several issues with it. These reviews are among the most difficult to write. On the one hand, clearly I didn't love the book. On the other hand, I didn't hate it. Am I trying to convince people to read the book? Or deter them? It's a tough call!
In this first book in a new series, Maia is an Effigy, and the whole world is about to find out. Effigies have the ability to fight phantoms, using one of the elements (fire, water, earth, air). Effigy abilities appear in a random person, and there are only four Effigies at a time, so the abilities pop up when one of the Effigies dies. Natalya, the Fire Effigy, is dead, and now Maia will take her place. But there is something sinister happening. For one, everyone thinks Natalya killed herself. But did she? And then there is Saul, who can control phantoms, and will stop at nothing to get to Maia, killing hundreds of innocent people in the process. Maia is taken to the other three Effigies, who must help her learn about being an Effigy quickly. But will it be too late for Maia?
I got a serious Ghostbusters vibe at first - and I'm talking about the new Ghostbusters movie, with Melissa McCarthy. Effigies destroy phantoms, and the phantoms can be any manner of creature, in a phantom apparition. They destroy them with their element - for example, Maia is the fire Effigy, Belle is the water Effigy, Chae Rin is the earth Effigy, and Lake is the air Effigy.
The book was interesting enough to hold my attention for the entire story, though it dragged throughout. It wasn't a long book, but it took me longer than usual, to finish. But I did finish the story, and it's not like the story was totally boring overall. I have to give the author points for creativity of story, even world-building. The setting changes often, from the U.S. to Argentina to England to France. Which was cool!
I also have to mention that this should be considered a "diverse" book! It made me extremely pleased to see a character with Caribbean roots. Because, obviously!
There is a tiny bit of romance, but it's basically not there. Maia has a crush on a boy, and the boy has a crush on Maia, but that's it. I guess we'll see more of a development in this department in future books.
I'd continue with this series. I wasn't completely disinterested or bored, though my review as a whole might make you otherwise.
What I Did Not Like:
Ahhh, where to start. Let's start with the characters. Every single character was flat, one-dimensional, boring, and had no development throughout the story. Maybe it was just me, not connecting with anyone? But it felt like everyone's personalities and mindsets are the same from start to finish. I didn't think Maia got braver or fiercer or smarter or anything "more", as the story went on. As an Effigy, even a new one, she has a huge responsibility. I was hoping to see her moping self transform into something better... I guess that's not happening, in this book.
But all of the other characters were just as flat. The other three Effigies are critical to this story, and I'd say that Lake is the only one that I saw some little bit of change. But even her, meh. None of the characters had any depth to them, and/or I could connect with any of them.
Also worth mentioning - each of the girls was unique, but they were such stereotypes. Belle, the cold one (the b***h). Chae Rin, the rebellious crazy one. Lake, the dramatic one (pop star). And Maia, the quiet one. Stereotype, stereotype, stereotype, stereotype...
Even the romance was flat. Rhys is a Sect agent, and he protects Maia over and over. I liked Rhys, but he was so one-dimensional and perpetually perfect. You can see that he is holding something back, but every time he wants to tell Maia the thing, he gets interrupted. That was incredibly frustrating! And a bad move, on the author's part. That question goes unanswered, which it really should not have, in this book.
And then there was Maia's dialogue and inner monologue. I don't know if that's just the author's writing style, but Maia's thoughts and speech made me cringe at times. She seemed so juvenile. Yes, she's sixteen, but she seemed like an adolescent, especially given some of her speech.
I'm still confused as to how Effigies are chosen. Randomly by nature? Immediately after one Effigy dies, the abilities jump into another person? And why was Saul "special"? I do not understand that part of the story at all. I'm not understanding the big reveal around Saul, as well. I'm not understanding the source of the phantoms, why they exist, etc. The author really just did not explain anything in this book. I'm not sure if she was waiting to reveal more information in future books?
And then there was the fact that this books dragged a lot, throughout the book. It was boring sometimes, but I think it was the pacing too. Theoretically the idea of this book really appealed to me, and I kept waiting for it to "wow" me, so I kept reading. I was never wow-ed.
Would I Recommend It:
Ehhh. If you were already interested in this book, then it's probably still worth pursuing. If you had a passing interest or not interest at all, then don't bother. If this series gets better, then it may be worth binge-reading. This wasn't the most impressive fantasy novel.
2.5 stars -> rounded down to 2 stars. Part of the reason why I'm rounding down is because, while there were redeeming qualities, there just weren't enough of them. I could see myself reading more from this series. But probably because I need closure. Hopefully it's three books or less!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!