The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have been waiting to read this book since finishing The Stars Never Rise last year. I wanted to see everything that Nina and her fellow exorcists did and I wanted to learn the back story to Finn.
But I honestly feel that this book was a bit of a letdown after the last book.
My main issue was with Nina. Over the course of the book it felt like every decision made was an outcome she explicitly wanted to happen. Sure, the group went through the process of a vote, but she still got the endings she wanted. For instance, the group found an abandoned child on their journey, just some random kid who said he was from a certain city way off from where they were, and somehow Nina manages to get the group roped into traveling that great distance to take him home. Her motivation? Well, apparently it was just the right thing to do for the kid. To me, though, it felt pointless.
Also, every decision she made was for the sake of her sister. Fine, that made the most sense, Nina was determined to keep Mellie and her baby safe BUT when you're dragging others back because "Wait! I need to check on Mellie!", it's definitely not a good thing. I was waiting for someone to call her out on it but everyone was way too accepting of it to have the mentality of the group seem reasonable. It was too easy for Nina to get others to hold back and help her sister because it was what she wanted them to do. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
However, that's not the only problem I had with Nina. One of the big plot points of this book is the coming conclusion to the end of her sister Mellie's pregnancy. There are a few concerns and Nina has a plan in place. Now, sure, I get it, I understand the reason for her plan, I get that it was supposed to signify the great devotion that Nina had for her family but after she continued to repeat it, over and over, I wasn't impressed with her strength or her courage. Instead, I rolled my eyes because goodness, her plan was stupid when there were other more pressing concerns to deal with about the pregnancy.
Now, I read this book kind of fast but I don't remember anyone bringing up the possibility that Mellie could somehow not survive childbirth. This isn't spoilers, its just the honest truth. Childbirth is a risky business, pregnancy is a feat of strength and endurance, and yet no one seemed too concerned about her chances. I mean, consider the facts. First off, the book has the group on the run in what is essentially a wasteland. They have to scramble for food and steal from cargo trucks. Mellie is not getting proper nourishment for herself or the kid, not by a long shot. Second, she's on the run with a bunch of teenagers. The only info they have on birth is coming from books they've found in the ruins they are hiding out in. These aren't good odds and yet it felt like it was never a possibility that was considered.
But hey, Nina has a plan. Everything's good.
Nina's also really eager to sacrifice herself for others. Honestly, if you're hoping to save your family, your friends, the world, etc., how about a more upbeat attitude and a belief that you'll survive? I got tired of hearing the whole "if I make it" sentiment that poured endlessly out of Nina's thoughts at every opportunity. Seriously, have a little faith, why don't you?
So Nina was my main issue but I also had a little bit of a problem with the random insertion of new characters. I didn't care for them. I don't want to be rude but the new characters and their placement in the book seemed to lead to a lot of filler chapters. I didn't truly connect with these characters so I didn't care for the outcomes they encountered.
Last but not least, the pacing. What the blimey was going on with the pacing? It felt like "and we're moving, we're moving, we're moving and STOP to do this for right now." When the point of the book is to be "on the run", it felt really out of place to stop and learn about fishing and sewing.
Not to mention that the way time moved in the book made no sense. It felt more like it was convenient to cut some characters and claim that the timing was syncing up correctly instead of adding them into the plot line the author was working with. Just snip snip, put this in here and boom, we were doing this while you were doing that and YES, it took up the same amount of time.
The back story could have used more development and the chance to really impact the characters. Instead, the ending felt rushed and the impact wasn't there to make the book have a lasting impression. I still very much enjoyed the first book, I'm just left with feeling a little more meh when it comes to this one.
Rating: 3 Stars
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