I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or content of my review.
Dystopian Establishment . Romance . Kick ass protagonist .
These are all the ingredients needed to create a great dystopian book, yes? Correct! Yet, Candice Snow has taken The Birth of a Phoenix to a whole new level in YA literature.
Read more of my thoughts after the break below.
The Birth of a Phoenix | By Candice Snow
Series: Phoenix Chronicles #1
Published: April.23,2013 | By Createspace
Forced to leave her home in New York, Florence flees to North Carolina where she is reluctantly taken in by a mysterious rural community called the Colony. Ruled by a self-appointed King and Queen, the Colony is divided from within. Women are raffled off at the age of sixteen, breaking the law means certain death, and under no circumstances are races to be mixed.
But Florence has never been one to follow rules. It isn’t long before she has secured a home for herself in the Cabin where servants are raised. Secluded just outside the confinements of the Colony, the Cabin allows Florence to mature in a peaceful environment. Here she establishes lasting friendships, bitter rivalries, and her first love.
When her father is publicly executed for a crime he didn’t commit, Florence focuses her attention on rebelling against the monarchy and uprooting the truth behind the Colony's darkest secrets. The only problem is that her marriage raffle is looming near, and the more Florence uncovers about the Colony—including the death of her father—the more it endangers both her safety and her sanity.
One of my favorite things about reading a book that isn't well known, is that you don't have to worry about hype. With all the buzz, comes what I call "bandwagon opinions" and spoilers, which can sometimes ruin a reading experience for you. So when I picked up The Birth of a Phoenix, I had no expectations at all, but boy did the author deliver. First and foremost, our main character, Florence, would have to be one of my favorite female protagonists to date. She's a 16 year old who has witness more death and despair than anyone my own age could endure, but yet she remained strong. There were moments where she broke down completely, showing us a side of vulnerability and raw emotion, but that is what made her character so realistic! The relationships with other characters that Florence obtained, was another aspect of the story that I enjoyed. The backstory of how some of these characters met, the dialogue, which was often sharp-tongued, witty, and deep, to the romance that sparked with a childhood friend, were all truly genuine. No "insta love" here people!
As I was reading, I had no problem imagining myself within the world that the author created. I could picture everything so vividly. The dusty roads, the small-cramped cabins, the tall evergreens and wild grass in the forests, even the grand estate of the royal family. I absolutely love a book that pulls you into the surroundings, giving us an illusion that we were there as well.
With dystopian novels, us readers tend to notice a bit of repetitiveness, which is what I thought would be the case here. Again, I was proven wrong. Candice Snow has created a world, a society rather, built completely around oppression. Racism plays a big role within this fictional community as people are separated according to their race, wealthiness, and IQ levels. Alongside racism, this book also touched basis on a subject that I rarely see within YA fiction . . . sexism. Women have no voice within this community. They live under laws that forbid them to work, or even educate themselves, making their purpose only to marry at 16 and bear children for their husbands.
With all the wonderful things about this book that I praise, they're also a few minor things that I disliked as well. For instance, I felt many of the situations in the book were created as an afterthought. Many of them came out of left field, leaving me a bit confused at times. Other situations weren't elaborated until the last few chapters of the book, which caused the storyline to drag out a bit longer than needed. I also noticed that there was a bit of repetitiveness involving certain scenes. Something would occur in chapter 3, and I would see the exact same narrative repeated later on in chapter 5. But again, they were completely minor, (to me atleast) and didn't alter my opinion on the book as a whole.
The Birth of a Phoenix is a refreshing, yet gory read that I think all dystopian lovers will devour. The plot is completely original and covers heavy topics that we don't always encounter in YA. The characters have depth and meaning, and the narrative completely sucks you in through every twist and turn, down to the very last page. I definitely enjoyed this book, and will be anticipating the next upcoming books within the series!