By Kailin Gow
Available now from Sparklesoup
Read my review of BITTER FROST and Kailin's guest blog
This review is part of a Traveling to Teens tour. Kailin Gow's previous stop was Yan's Books By Their Cover and her next stop is Wdebo's Electrical Book Cafe on Tuesday.
I liked RISE OF THE FIRE TAMER more than BITTER FROST, though they shared similar weaknesses. Again, there are some editing issues. Gemma "Gem" James is an intelligent and clever heroine, which is admirable, but she's shallowly drawn. While most of the book follows her exploits, I know the least about her bad qualities. She's just beautiful and a good prospective ruler.
As a contrast, the secondary girl, Kat has far more elaboration to her character. She's the definition of trying too hard at the beginning of RISE OF THE FIRE TAMER. She wants attention on her own terms, which is almost impossible to demand. This quickly gets her in trouble and she decides to work on her character flaws. Jack is too nervous, which works as a flaw, though he doesn't really get any development. Sparks and Rio mostly just snap at each other or flirt with Gem unless it is a battle scene.
None of the romances really worked for me. The end of each chapter gives a snippet of each character's thoughts, which tended to feature Sparks and Rio thinking incredibly jerky things. The easily forgiven Goolrick should not have been let off so easily for what he did to Gem, even if there was no permanent damage.
As for the adventure plot itself, it works better than BITTER FROST because the speed is slightly slower. Anachronia, the tenth level of the Wordwick Games, works based on words. This is good for younger readers, though the vocabularly lessons might slow down older readers who are done with their SAT vocabulary. Also, the warring tribes of Anachronia are Spurious and Perfidous, and the five gamers choose to side with a tribe. Personally, I wouldn't side with either if those are the words they choose to represent themselves.
Fantasy readers will probably enjoy RISE OF THE FIRE TAMER, which is reminiscent of Vivian Vande Velde's USER UNFRIENDLY. Those who like character driven novels probably won't find it satisfying, however.