The Fire Sermon
by Francesca Haig
(The Fire Sermon, #1)
Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
egalley, 384 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own. Thank you, Gallery Books!
When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.
They were born together and they will die together.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.
I had high expectations for The Fire Sermon, and I was very happy with how it turned out. It’s set in a dystopian world where a nuclear disaster changed the way humans were born: Nearly all children are born as twins, a girl and a boy. One is the Alpha, one is the Omega. The Omega twin almost always has a deformity or physical disability, while the Alpha is unflawed. Society has outcast the Omegas, and the Council is trying to create a perfect world where only the Alphas reside. The only trouble is that the lives of each set of twins are connected: if one dies, so does the other.
The book focuses on Cass, an Omega who has the rare ability to see glimpses of the future and sense the things around her. Seers are an anomaly, as they are not physically deformed in any way. Much of the beginning of the book is about Cass’s childhood, when she hid her seeing ability and thus lived thirteen years with her twin, Zach, without being branded as an Omega and outcast. Her childhood was hard because of everyone’s suspicion, and became even harder when Zach suspected she was the Omega and started to resent her because he was being deprived of the privileges he could get by being claimed the Alpha. Fast forward to the present day story and Zach’s become an ambitious, ruthless young member of the Council. He’s got enemies, obviously, and so he locks up Cass in an effort to eliminate the danger of her being taken out to take him out. (Remember, if one twin dies, so does the other.)
Cass escapes, as you’d suspect, and the book’s main plot finally picks up with her journey to an island, a safe haven, for Omegas. She frees another Omega, Kip, and they run from the authorities trying to capture them. I liked Cass and Kip, as well as the other supporting characters like Piper and Zoe. Everyone felt real, everyone was unique.
I liked Cass’s conflicted thoughts about loving her brother who became a monster, and about killing anyone because it’s not just one life lost, it’s two. I liked Kip, the one-armed amnesiac. He really grew as the story went on and his and Cass’s relationship developed seamlessly. They first built up trust between them, then friendship, and then become fiercely loyal and protective of each other. I love these type of friendships that turn into something more, though the romance in The Fire Sermon is definitely not a focus at all, which was refreshing. It took me a while to like Piper, but I warmed up to him eventually. And Zoe was awesome. Don’t mess with that chick! I love tough girls who aren’t afraid to unapologetically prove their points. Cass is also constantly being hunted by the Confessor, a formidable woman aligned with Cass’s brother, Zach. The woman is relentless and plagues Cass’s dreams. She was a great villain.
In addition to the journey to the island and running from the authorities, the book deals with a lot of questions and concerns that the characters keep thinking about. Like how the Council is planning to make their all-Alpha society. (I guessed the Big Plan toward the beginning of the book, but it was still disturbing when it was revealed in full.) And if loving your twin after all the terrible things they’ve done is right. (Cass spent thirteen years in the close company of Zach, since other people avoided them because they didn’t know which of them was the Omega. Cass saw Zach transform into the Reformer, as he’s called, and while she is sickened at the choices he’s made, she still loves him and wants to protect him.)
I really enjoyed The Fire Sermon. I loved Francesca Haig’s writing — there were some very poetic sentences every now and then that didn’t seem out of place for the tone of voice. The long parts when it’s just Cass and Kip traveling from town to town (or, rather, avoiding the towns altogether) never dragged on. All their actions were interesting, and these slower-paced instances really took advantage of developing their relationship. (The time they spent helping out an an orphanage was one of my favorite parts of the book.) The ending was surprising and fitting, and I’m eager to know what’s going to happen next. ♦
So tell me…
Have you read The Fire Sermon? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What was the last book, if you can recall, that was about twins? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!