398 pages, YA Dystopian
The Country Saga #1
My Rating: 5 stars
Fun Fact: Prickler Salad and 'Zard Soup are staples of the Fire Country peoples' diets. Prickler Salad=Cactus Salad 'Zard Soup=Lizard Soup
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.
My 2 cents
This seriously is one of the best YA dystopians I have ever read. No lie. I will try to hold myself back from gushing out too much praise, but no promises. I'm afraid this will be a pretty raving review!
First of all, let's talk a little about Fire Country. Fire Country is a very harsh environment to live in. Life expectancy is somewhere in the 30s, and the heat is unforgiving. Daily life is a struggle. Added to this is the cruel laws of the land. The world building was great in this, I could almost feel the heat, and had no issues imagining any of it in my head.
The story starts with our MC, Siena, about to turn 16 and basically losing all her freedom. She only wants to be with her best friend, Circ. I LOVED Siena. She is one of my favorite MCs ever! I love her name, and how she seems like she's the runt of the society, but she has a strong mind and personality. I could really relate to Siena, and it was so easy to understand her and her thoughts. Circ was also awesome, and the two made such a great pair in this story.
Siena's father, Roan, meanwhile is the perfect villian of the story, and I hated him with every fiber of my being. There are a few other villians I also loved to hate, but Roan really takes the cake for despicable creatures.
The other awesome character in this story was a big fun surprise--a prickler (cactus) named Perry. He's basically alive in Siena's imagination, and helps her through some tight spots. Perry the Prickler made me giggle. And those giggles were needed to balance out the dark turns the story was taking!
There are some horribly bleak and dark moments in this one, and there were several places I was terrified for Siena and was holding my breath. Along with a few tears in certain places. I won't give away any spoilers, but this book made me feel a huge range of emotions.
And like all David Estes books I've read, I didn't know what to expect! I did not guess most of the twists, although there was one that I saw coming. But I was surprised a lot and I love that!
The best part of the story for me was Siena and her journey. She goes through so much, but she has a lot of spirit. I think this is a great story for teens to read, and they could get a lot out of it. And like I said, this is one of my favorite dystopians now! If you love dystopians, I really recommend this one!