Saturday, January 3, 2015

Trial of Science and Magic

In our universe, science is the law and magic is nonsense. What if it were the other way around? What if witches were revered while scientists were hunted and destroyed? Josephine Angelini takes the world and changes everything you thought was true and right in Trial by Fire

Lily Proctor has always been sickly. Her body runs at temps that baffle doctors, and her frequent fevers take her to heat levels no body should be able to survive. But she still clings to life, or whatever semblance of life she can with a body that hates everything you do and has an allergic reaction to everything around you. But she has always had Tristan, the boy whose dating life is the stuff of legends, and her faithful sister. When she and Tristan decide to take their relationship past the friend stage and into uncharted territory, she finally feels happy about something in her life. But she should have known better. A guy like Tristan doesn't change overnight. And with his tongue down the throat of an obnoxious underclassman, Lily begs for a change. What she didn't expect was to be ripped out of her universe and planted in a parallel one where everything she knew is different. 

In this world, people keep calling her Lillian and are surprised to see her wandering around the city alone. Then she meets the real Lillian. Her other self, the one who lives in, and runs, this world, is a witch. The head witch of this city, in fact. And she is the one who brought Lily here. Lily wants nothing to do with this woman, or her plans for Lily, but when she escapes, she walks right into the hands of the one man who trusts Lillian least, Rowan. Rowan was Lillian's chief mechanic until he severed his tie to her, and now, faced with Lily, the pain of Lillian's betrayal is almost too much to take. But his partner, Tristan, can see the difference between Lily and Lillian. This world, however, is full of dangers, like the Woven, horrible magical mistakes that tear apart anyone who dares to live outside the wall. Like it or not, Rowan has to help protect Lily since she would never survive without help. As he does, he sees her for who she truly is: Lily. Not Lillian. And she might be the key to saving Rowan's world. 

I feel like I can't do this book justice with any kind of description because it is so different, interesting, and thought-provoking. The plot itself is fast-paced but detailed enough to keep you reading at a break-neck pace, and I couldn't get enough it. Lily's transformation throughout the story was my favorite part of the story. She went from a sick girl who barely eked out a life to an all-powerful witch who had the potential to surpass her own counter part. But she was flawed. She was more grounded than Lillian because her humble life in her own universe had left her without a lifetime of greed and hunger for power, but that hunger is still deep down inside her psyche. As she connects to Rowan and her power is amplified, she struggles to keep herself from devouring his energy and hurting him because it really is all she wants to do. For a girl who couldn't even have a sip of beer at a keg party without having a seizure, the power she has now is intoxicating. This is why I loved Lily so much. She was flawed. She was greedy and hungry for power, but she was also a good enough person to stop herself and to sacrifice herself to protect others. It made her the better version of herself even though she still possessed those flaws. She is a dynamic character, and Angelini left me still reeling even days after I finished the story! 

Angelini's skill in this book didn't end with character building. Her world-building was so in tune, it left me feeling like I knew this world of magic and witches. I could see the terrifying Woven over the wall, could imagine the terrifying way the people produce their food (might make you go vegetarian), and could see the desperation in people's faces as they fought for their beliefs... in science. Imagine a world powered by witches' magics where scientists are persecuted. The scientists don't want to rely on the witches for power, but are their solutions all that much better? "Elemental science" that creates a byproduct rife with danger and instability? If there was a magical solution to our own world's energy problem, how would that be received by the scientists who believe in nuclear power despite its terrifying byproducts? This book was full of these questions, and I really believe it would get any reader to contemplate the deep, dark questions of our own universe, and to accomplish that even with witches and magic, Angelini has got to be a mad scientist herself! Or a witch! Either way, she was pretty darned brilliant, and I am dying for the next book in the series!

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