Smoke In The Sun by Renée Ahdieh | Review

Smoke In The Sun by Renée Ahdieh

Series: Flame In The Mist

Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy

Published May 3rd 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton

(Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads)

This was a glorious part two to a wonderful duology!

The characters were by far my favourite aspect of this book. The protagonist Mariko is clever and strong willed, making for a powerful character to read about.

So often 'strong women' in literature are portrayed quite literally with actual strong physical skill and strength and that's great but you can be strong in other ways than physically! I can't relate as much to that as to a character that is strong mentally or intellectually or even emotionally. There are so many different types of strength and everyone relates to different characteristics for different reasons.

I loved that the actions the characters take, take centre stage in this novel and their progress and development is really what this book is all about. I haven't found a book where I related to the character so much in a long time. The different perspectives intertwine much more in this second novel and the result of the author's talent where it comes to plotting is clear.

“Respect is not a thing granted. It is a thing earned.”

I'm always searching for empowering fantasy reads that have real feminist undertones or characters, because the contemporary genre seems so much further ahead in this regard and I need more from fantasy. I feel as though fantasy stories more often than not flash back to not only old world culture but also old-fashioned views. And a lot of the time sadly enough it is accurate regarding history but fantasy doesn't always have to be historically accurate. It's not non-fiction and it's not historical fiction. We live in a much more aware time and I think it's important that we keep pushing to make the awareness even better. So why not write a story that has the culture and style of a past time but a more modern view on equality?

“Our deepest truths are usually the hardest to conceal.”

I found a connection to Mariko because she uses her intellectual skill and the way she thinks as her weapon of choice. Even though I love badass assassins and skilled warrior women and I will always love reading about them, I will continue to want to see a larger variety of strengths portrayed in the books that I'm reading and I know I'm not the only reader who feels like this. But Smoke In The Sun actually did so much in such an amazing way. Renée Ahdieh created a very special tale here, and an incredible protagonist that I know I will often think about. It's one of the most well written young adult novels that I've ever read.

“You do not know what it means to be happy. Happiness is not a thing to be found here in the imperial court. We take moments of pleasure. Collect them and keep them tight in our chests. And we hope they are enough to fill whatever holes our truths leave behind.”

This book is a tale of trust, belief, and fear. It is strikingly beautiful. The first book 'Flame In The Mist' was a great read but this one just takes the story up about ten levels. The plot in 'Smoke In The Sun' continues shortly after the ending of the previous novel. I know some people don't like long time gaps between novels so I just thought I'd mention that as a plus side. I fell instantly back into the story, even though it'd been a while since I'd read 'Flame In The Mist' and I didn't remember absolutely everything that happened I was still captured by what was going on and was quickly brought up to speed.

I didn't love the ending quite as much as the rest of the novel, it felt a little rushed. Although I do understand why the author chose to do it that way, I mostly didn't like it because I didn't want it to end. But the story had to come to an end even though I didn't want it to.

“Ours is a love stronger than fear and deeper than the sea”

The book is full of feminist undertones and the author didn't just mention something without giving context like I've seen before so many times in other books. She actually took the time to create a story with it and I feel like so many people could learn from these characters (mainly Mariko, Yumi and Okami). She shows the bad and takes the protagonist on a journey that confronts it. In addition the love interest isn't there to support Mariko, she doesn't need him. He's their to stand beside her. And there's a massive difference. I just flipping love this story, and EVERYONE needs to read it!

Series Ratings:

Flame In The Mist: 78%

Okami: 91%

Yumi: 50%

Smoke In The Sun: 91%

Content warning: sex references (there wasn't much and I think what there was was done tastefully, it's not too graphic), murder and strong violence.

Thank you so much for reading! I'll be back soon with another post!

- Sophie Elaina

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