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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

The Fire Sermon  

Book Description (partial):  Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large.

The Fire Sermon features a set of twins:  Cass, the Omega twin,who appears to be perfect, all limbs and features intact, but with the invisible mutation of psychic foresight, and Zach, the Alpha twin, who is physically perfect, but with a dangerous ambition.  

Zach also harbors a deep resentment because it isn't obvious which twin is the Omega and must be sent away to an Omega settlement.  All Omegas are branded and ostracized, usually when infants, but because Cass' "deformity" isn't obvious, the exile doesn't happen for years, during which time Zach's frustration and anger grows.  The Omegas are kept poor and isolated in settlements, but not killed--because when one twin dies, the other dies as well. As long as Cass is present in the Alpha society, Zach is in a kind of purgatory, as both twins are under suspicion.

When Cass is finally determined to be an Omega and sent away, Zach begins his journey to power.  He eventually rises to rank and privilege in the Alpha community.   

After several years in the Omega settlement, Cass is captured, taken from the Omega settlement, and imprisoned by the Alphas at Zach's direction.  What is his eventual plan for Cass?  Nothing good--he wants her alive, because his own life depends on it (and his enemies would love to see Cass, and by extension Zach, dead).  What Zach has in mind, however, would be a kind of living death for Cass.

She escapes, and along with the young man she rescues, joins the resistance--the rebels that long for equality. 

Most of the book moves quickly and is filled with adventure, but unfortunately, there is a slow section near the beginning dealing with Cass' imprisonment that almost caused me to lose interest and abandon the book.  I'm glad I didn't because when Cass finally escapes, the book gained interest again, and I plunged wholeheartedly back into the story.

An interesting dystopian concept and an exciting plot make this an engrossing read after the one slow section that should be shortened a bit so that it doesn't interrupt the novel's pace.

The Fire Sermon is the first in a new trilogy, and Dreamworks has optioned the book for a film version.

 read  in Nov.;  blog post scheduled for Feb.  22, 2015

NetGalley/Gallery Books

Dystopian.  March 10, 2015.  Print length:  384 pages.


  1. This book sounds quite interesting, Jenclair. Is it a YA book? I might have to watch for it.

    1. The e-galley I received was classified sci-fi/fantasy--which fits. But I saw another version classified as YA--which also fits. The main characters are in their early twenties.

  2. This sounds interesting. Like Kay, I'm wondering if this is a YA book.

  3. Zach sounds like the one with the flaw to me. I don't like him very much from your description of him. The book does sound interesting--different.

  4. Not all flaws are visible, and the lack of feeling on the part of all the "perfect" twins is pretty scary. While the information about the culture explains some of this, it is unpleasantly reminiscent of the way the Germans managed to have family members betray each other.