Welcome to the blog tour for The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac! This tour is hosted by Me, My Shelf and I, so be sure to check out the other tour stops by clicking the banner above! Also, enter the tour-wide giveaway below! So are you ready to get your book tour on? Let's do this thing!
The Boys of Fire and Ash
by Meaghan McIsaac
Release Date/Published: 12 May 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Age Level: Younger YA/Older MG
My Rating: 4/5!
Abandoned at birth, the Brothers of the Ikkuma Pit know no mothers. They fend for themselves, each training their Little Brother to survive until they turn sixteen, when it’s their Leaving Day. No boy knows what’s beyond the forest. But when Urgle’s Little Brother, Cubby, is carried off by troll-like predators, Urgle and two of his Brothers embark on a quest to rescue him from a place from which no one has ever returned.
PRAISE FOR THE BOYS OF FIRE AND ASH
"McIsaac’s debut fantasy novel is fast-paced and heartstopping.... This self-contained story is an entertaining read that will be enjoyed by many."-- School Library Journal
"The novel is urgently gritty, with rich worldbuilding and plenty of action."-- Publishers Weekly
"The compelling mythology and dystopian setting will appeal to genre readers. Fans of James Dashner, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Patrick Ness need look no further."-- Kirkus
Fans of Rick Riordan and Anthony Horowitz will want to read this action-filled debut novel that offers a new world to enjoy and a new underdog to root for.-- Booklist
The whole idea that mothers would abandon their infant sons in a harsh landscape was positively gut-wrenching! How could any mother abandon their child, let alone a tiny baby, with no idea of whether or not they'd be able to survive? I was hoping there was some very important reason to do so, and not because they're just evil, like the boys all assume. Then again, you can't really blame the boys for thinking mothers evil. They have no information to go on to help them see things in any other light. I enjoyed getting to know a little about life in the Ikkuma Pit; I feel as though it helped illustrate just how alien things outside the Pit are to these isolated boys.
This story is told by Urgle and I immediately started to feel for him. He - and every other Brother in the Pit, it seems - feels he is nothing but useless because he has no real abilities. He is good at making daggers, though, so there's that at least. I found Urgle to be a rather realistic character. I liked the fact that he wasn't particularly good at hunting or tracking or anything else valued highly in the Pit; it made him more relate-able. He has a bit of a quick temper, with a tendency not to think things through, but again, that just makes him seem all the more believable. He does have a best friend, Av. Av is a good character and one we get to see a bit more development from as the story progresses. He's that friend that is good at everything and gets along with everyone. I think it an interesting contrast to Urgle, one that I enjoyed. In the Pit, when a new baby is dropped off, they get picked up by an older boy and taught about the ways of the Ikkuma Brothers. Urgle's little brother is Cubby. Cubby is so adorable, but Urgle is always annoyed by him. However, when Cubby gets kidnapped by goblin-like nasties called Tunrar, Urgle decides he will stop at nothing to rescue him. This is the time when we really get to see great character development. Urgle thinks he's completely useless, but he has such determination and a great depth of feeling that I personally value very highly.
The world outside the Ikkuma Pit is vastly different. Watching Urgle and his quest brothers venture into this world was really interesting. Having the story told from Urgle's point of view was an excellent idea for this adventure. As the reader, we get to discover all these new things right along with Urgle. They're terrifying and wonderful and completely foreign to these boys. One of the things I found most funny was how Urgle perceived wrinkles. Being always surrounded by boys 16 and younger, he has never seen any mature adults, let alone elders. When he sees an old person, to him, their wrinkles make it seem like the person's face is melting. I found it hilarious! Melty ancient people. Amazing, right? Along their journey, the boys encounter many strange, scary and interesting people and landscapes. The Baublenotts is probably the place I find simultaneously the most interesting and terrifying. Just wait until you read about it and then you'll see what I mean! Urgle's interpretation of the outside world was very refreshing, which I think will aid younger readers in enjoying this novel very much.
When first starting the book, I was a little confused about the world-specific language. Even when they got outside of the Pit, I still got a little overwhelmed by all the new things presented to me. At first, I thought it might make me get frustrated with the novel and give up. However, with each new and unfamiliar thing that was introduced, I discovered I wanted to know more. I feel as though plunging the reader into an all new experience like that can either go horribly wrong or turn out okay. In this case, it turned out wonderfully because it helped the reader experience everything new right along with the boys! You get used to their personal lingo, then you add in all this new stuff, making you feel a part of the story. I honestly think younger readers will find this most gratifying. Other than getting a little lost in the lingo, there seemed to be some pacing issues. However, it didn't really deter me from enjoying the story and hoping for a happy ending.
Speaking of endings, there has to be a sequel! I didn't know if that was going to be a possibility or not, but I want more, so it needs to happen. Ahem. Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading The Boys of Fire and Ash. This journey I was able to take with Urgle was fraught with danger and excitement and even sadness, but it was one that I wouldn't have missed for anything. I am definitely intrigued by this debut novel and know that Meaghan McIsaac is an author to watch out for. As I mentioned before, I think this is a great novel for younger YA readers or older MG readers. Regardless of how old you are, I think there is adventure enough to capture your imagination and keep you reading late into the night. Now bring on that sequel, please!
I write books for middle grade and young adult. I read them too. I used to draw a bit. When I was nine, I drew comics about a bird family who had a fuzzy orange caterpillar for a dog. They never ate him. After that, I gave a lot of embarrassing performances in my high school's musicals. I believe I stomped my foot when I messed up a line once. So I gave up on acting and decided to stick to telling stories. I packed up and left for the UK where I did my Master's in children's writing at the University of Winchester. Now I'm back in Toronto, reading and writing. I have one noisy beagle and one lab who doesn't stop eating. My first favourite book was Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville. I have since added a lot more favourites to my collection. They take up most of the living room.
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