Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ninth City Burning

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
Penguin Publishing Group: 9/6/16
eBook review copy; 544 pages
ISBN-13: 9781101991442

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black is a recommended science fiction tale, highly recommended and suited for YA audiences.

Seven young narrators tell the story in first person of Earth's fate in this four part novel. The narrators are are: Jax, Torro,  Vinneas, sisters Rae and Naomi, Kizabel, and Imway.
An alien race, nicknamed "Romeo"or the "Valentines," wants to take over the Earth. The war began 500 years ago when "Romeo" brought a weapon that is a universe-altering force known as thelemity. Entire cities have been destroyed and the success of the aliens seemed inevitable until it is discovered that there are people who are called "fontani," who can produce thelemity, or "revenni." These individuals can use thelemity to impose their will upon the world, but more importantly they can fight back against Romeo using this magic/technology hybrid weapon.

Ninth City Burning is the first book in a new series. This initial introduction to the story, young protagonists, and the war borrows numerous ideas from other, classic sci fi novels. It has a very slow start that may discourage some readers, but those who stick with it and keep track of the narrators will appreciate the end and likely be anxiously anticipating the second book in this purposed three book series. It can be humorous and playful at times, especially with the pop culture references.

I was really looking forward to reading Ninth City Burning, but I did have a few issues with the novel. Those who enjoy YA fiction and frequently read it may not feel the same way. I firmly believe that the market audience for Ninth City Burning is YA, especially based the age of the protagonists, although most of the characters don't exactly talk like they are tweens/teens. Additionally, there are simply too many narrators to keep track of for this strategy to be truly effective. There are many parts with a lot of technical descriptions that could potentially become a bit tedious. (Honestly, I checked out with the magic/technology in the thelemity as I'm not always a great fan of fantasy/magic stories.) There were also things introduced and then left, which I would imagine will play an important role in subsequent books in the series. A solid 3.5 for me, but I'm sure this is a 4.5 for YA fans.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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