My review of Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach will follow the publisher’s blurb :

What if the asteroid heading toward Earth in Tommy Wallach’s New York Times bestselling novel, We All Looked Up, actually hit and demolished our planet?

What if, after thousands of years, two civilizations rose from the ashes? What if those cities found out about each other?

Through the viewpoints of multiple characters, Strange Fire describes the beginnings of an inevitable war between these two civilizations, a war that will pit faith against science, zealotry against technology…and brother against brother.

They said that the first generation of man was brought low by its appetites: for knowledge, for power, for wealth. They said mankind’s voracity was so great, the Lord sent his own Daughter to bring fire and devastation to the world.

The survivors were few, but over the course of centuries they banded together to form a new civilization—the Descendancy—founded on the belief that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

Brothers Clive and Clover Hamill, the sons of a well-respected Descendant minister, have spent their lives spreading that gospel. But when their traveling ministry discovers a community intent on rediscovering the blasphemous technologies of the past, a chain of events will be set in motion that will pit city against city…and brother against brother.

Along with Gemma Poplin, Clive’s childhood sweetheart, and Paz Dedios, a revolutionary who dreams of overthrowing the Descendancy, Clive and Clover will each play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of this holy war, and the fate of humanity itself.

The Giver meets The City of Ember in this start to an epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Tommy Wallach.

I know I keep on saying this anytime I read YA, but where were these amazing stories when I was growing up? Now, if I was still in high school (thankfully I’m not) and had to write a book report I’d pick Strange Fire. Wallach packs friendship, family, betrayal, a dusting of romance/lust but more importantly, a very strong religion vs science theme within the pages of Strange Fire.

The opening chapters of wagons and long dusty travelling were perfect for setting up this new world. It really gave me a sense of being along for the journey.

The loss and tragedy that was experienced early in those opening chapters, fueled my reading. For some reason, I kept thinking of everything that was left behind in the aftermath (even the musical instruments). As I continued to read, I found it fascinating how some events can change who we are and what we believe in. Those pivotal moments are crucial to Strange Fire.

The bond I enjoyed reading the most was that of Clover and Clive. The relationship between the brothers fascinated me. I truly loved how Wallach writes about these two. Perhaps more so as Gemma and Paz become more present as the book goes on.

And then there is the faith vs scientific aspects of the book. In all honesty, when religion plays heavily into a book, I tend to shy away from it. In this work however, I really liked how Wallace doesn’t hammer home any particular viewpoint.

This was my first time reading Tommy Wallach. The blurb got me wondering about his other book We All Looked Up and how it relates to Strange Fire. The only thing I would have liked added to my ARC would have been a map but that is me just being fussy.

I’m really looking forward to see where Wallach goes with these themes in book two. I was a little sad when I got to the last page only to realise that I’d have to wait for the sequel. If you are looking for a YA “post-apocalyptic” book along the lines of The Giver or the Road, then I’d strongly recommend Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach.

Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach – Available now
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Grades 9 and up)
400 pages
ISBN 9781481468381

An advance copy of Strange Fire was provided by the publisher in exchange for my thoughts and review.

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