“A history written in ashes, in bones. Before the blast, they say there’d been sermons about fire, about the end of the world. The fire itself gave the last sermon; after that there were no more.”
Author: Francesca Haig Published: 2014 Pages: 416
This dystopian novel imagines a world where, because of a nuclear disaster, for some unknown reason, everyone is born with a twin – one Alpha and one Omega. The Alpha is perfect and destined for a rich life of wealth and decadence while the Omega is deformed and will live their life in poverty and destitution. The only thing that connects them is death; if one dies, so does the other. At the beginning of this novel we meet Cassandra (the Omega) and Zach (the Alpha.)
I picked this book up a few years ago when I attended YALC in London. I have to admit the allure of The Fire Sermon initially came because the premise concerned twins, and as a twin myself, I thought it would be interesting to see how an author challenges the usual stereotypes of twins. It was interesting to see that Haig chose to pit each of the twins against each other and she went against the stereotype of twins being “joined at the hip” which I enjoyed. I also liked how, because there was such a hierarchy between the siblings, she emphasised the competition that can occur between twins which was nice to see reflected in the book.
Cassandra was relatable as a character which I enjoyed, and obviously I felt sympathy for her predicament. I think the problem was I never really felt like she was in danger. I don’t know why, but despite the fact her brother was hell-bent on keeping her locked away, part of me knew she would be okay in the end which took away from the overall tension of the narrative.
Overall, while Haig is a good writer, this was nothing astounding, and to be honest I was less than amused to find out this book would be the first of a trilogy. The premise was good, but unfortunately, I just didn’t find myself blown away by the book.