THIS BOOK IS ON FIRE!
Title: Fire Country (A Dwellers Saga Sister Novel, Book #1 of the Country Saga)
Author: David Estes
Publication: Createspace Independent Publishing
Release Date: 2013
***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy***
Fire Country is a story told through the eyes of fifteen year old youngling Siena. Siena and her people are called Heaters, and they occupy this hot, dry and futuristic land. The Heaters have limited life expectancies, due to the overbearing heat, with only a few reaching beyond their thirtieth birthday. The ruler of the Heaters is Greynote Shiva, as at thirty-five years old he is currently the oldest surviving male. Siena’s father is one of the top-ten Greynote leaders, and the next in line to be their ruler as he is thirty-two years old.
Siena is a day-dreamer and is constantly scolded by her teachers at school. She is frequently ridiculed by the other students who see her as weak. He father often beats her for embarrassing their family. Siena’s one true friend is her fellow Youngling Circ. Circ has been her friend since they were Totters, then Midders and now as Younglings. Circ is a Hunter who is strong, an exceptional athlete and handsome too. He always protects Siena at all costs.
Siena and Circ are both about to turn sixteen. It is stated in Heater Law that at the age of sixteen all females will have to become Bearers. That means for Siena that at the upcoming Calling ceremony she will be matched with an eighteen year old boy, so as to bear his children and continue on the Heater race. Circ will continue honing his Hunter skills and providing food and protection for the Heaters, until he turns eighteen and becomes part of the Call.
Amongst the Heaters there are some that are not happy with the structured regime of their people. The Law that does not allow people to decide upon their own destiny, has created a rebellious group known as the Wild Ones. The Wild Ones have run away from their families, the village and the Law to live as they please. The Wild Ones are feared by the Greynotes, despised by the villagers and secretly envied by the defiant few.
David Estes has created another great novel! Fire Country had me intrigued from its opening statement:
A Bearer shall, upon reaching the appropriate age of sixteen years old, be Called to a man, no younger than eighteen years old, to Bear children, immediately and every three years thereafter.
This is the LAW.
The feminist in me was outraged that this was Law. I could not think of anything worse than being told that for the rest of my life I would just be bearing someone’s children! Someone, who I didn’t like or even get to choose. The fact that this was going to happen to sixteen year old girls was also very hard to swallow. Thus this opening statement had me rapidly reading the whole book! I read the book in two days as I was so infuriated with the Law that I had to find out the outcome immediately!
This novel reminded me somewhat of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. That book is also set in a dystopian world where certain women are forced to become Handmaids, who bear the children for the future. I despised the concept of that novel so much that I, unfortunately, didn’t finish the novel. The difference with Fire Country was that Estes paints Siena as the down-trodden, underdog who unfortunately is going to be turning sixteen. Unlike Atwood, who wrote the Handmaid, Offred, as a detached and inaccessible character, Estes has written Siena as a character the reader could easily sympathise. She has that idealistic personality where she can see the bigger picture. She is not someone who is happy with her life being mapped out for her and she can see a brighter future elsewhere. As a reader you are intrigued to see where her ideals lead her.
Now this is me with my teacher hat on; my one criticism of this book was the dialogue. I know it is a futuristic world and the characters speak differently, but sometimes it was difficult to appreciate that the characters were intellectual people when they are using slang, shortening words and not pronouncing the endings of words. Given my profession I despise bad grammar and poor pronunciation of words.
Overall, Estes wrote another fantastic story. It was new and refreshing and left you reeling for more. I cannot wait to read Book Two in the Country Saga- Ice Country.