Divided Fire Book Review

Genre: YA High Fantasy Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

When I received Divided Fire by Jennifer San Filippo in a grab bag from my local library, I was so excited because the synopsis honestly sounds epic. The story takes place in a world where some people are gifted with voices that can control the elements, but it is dangerous for these singers because they are often drafted into the military since the two major countries in the novel are at war. The protagonist, Miren, has always wanted to be gifted with a voice, but becomes preoccupied with bigger problems when her sister, who is a singer, is kidnapped by pirates.

Overall, neat concept, but poorly executed. I rarely DNF a book, but I really considered abandoning this one multiple times. While the plot definitely improved throughout the novel, the characters were one-dimensional and problematic.

First off, the author focuses so much on the plot of the novel that the character development is practically nonexistent. At the outset of the story when Miren’s sister is kidnapped, I knew as a reader that I was supposed to care, but I didn’t. By the end of any book, if one of the main characters almost dies, the reader should feel something, but I felt absolutely nothing when I thought one of the main characters might not make it.

The other main issue I had with the book is that Miren’s sister, Kesia, supposedly avoided the singer draft by spreading the rumor that she lost her voice from an illness. Numerous times throughout the novel Kesia’s frequent illness and overall fragility are referenced. The problem arises when the author puts Kesia through many physical hardships and she has zero issues. The entire time I was reading the book I was so frustrated by this because it was so unrealistic. I wanted to talk to the author and say, “Yes, thank you for including someone with a chronic illness, we are definitely under-represented, but you did it all wrong!”

All in all, there are certainly better books to spend your time reading. More importantly, this book truly highlights the need for more diverse and ACCURATE representations of sick and chronically ill people in novels.

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