Flame in the Mist Disappoints

Vanessa Anderson, Reporter

Curious had been the word most often ascribed to her when she was younger. She’d been the watchful sort of child. The one conscious of every mistake. When Mariko had erred, it had usually been intentional. An attempt to push barriers. Or a desire to learn.

Flame in the Mist, by Renee Ahdieh, published by Putnam, was ranked number eight in ‘The Can’t Wait Books of 2017’ on goodreads. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of the many people anticipating this book. But to my disappointment, this is one of the worst books I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of books. In the last year, I’ve read 40 books.

It’s one thing to know how to survive, it’s another to actually do it. In Flame in the Mist, Mariko has knowledge of how to survive but has never experienced the world beyond the house she’d been pampered in. Despite this, she outsmarts a band of murderers and thieves, manages to escape the most life-threatening situations, and miraculously knows how to survive every problem that arises.

At one point, I read 13 pages without dialogue. Thirteen pages. No dialogue. Am I the only one that sees a problem with this? That’s 13 pages of a character rambling about the scenery, her thoughts and how smart she’s always been. Thirteen pages of a character’s self-perceived view of how things should be, of how awful the clan is despite her clear enjoyment among a band of murderers and thieves. Thirteen pages of no one talking. It happens a lot in this book. Mariko will ramble on about her petty thoughts and no one says a word for pages.

Then there’s the romance. This isn’t one of those books where the romance overtakes the novel, and the book becomes this sappy romance instead of the action-packed fantasy the summary claims it is. No. This is one of those books where the author created two characters, decided they’re to be together and forced them to become a couple.

It doesn’t happen naturally. From the moment Mariko met Okami the romance has been going on. She’s continuously thinking about how she can’t read him but wants to. Of how scared and angry she is at Okami for kidnapping her. Yet despite her angry thoughts, she’s awing after his skill. But even though she’s amazed at how Okami was perfect at everything, she knows they can’t be together because he’s her enemy, and must be struck down.

Overall, the romance is sappy, unnatural and doesn’t belong in this book.

Now, let’s get into Kenshin Hattori, Mariko’s brother. I found him rather interesting. He’s a tracker dead-set on finding Mariko and ensuring her safety. All the problems with his ex-girlfriend were kind of out of place, but I can forgive that because of how small the problem was through this book. Unlike Mariko, his knowledge on survival was realistic. Then everything started to go downhill when the author decided he was to be the guy that lost his temper. From what I saw, he’s simply trying to protect his sister, yet the author perceived him as the bad guy.  It was near the end of the book that I lost all interest in Kenshin. The events that took place with him felt like it was just a setup to get the plot moving because the author realized nothing was happening.

Flame in the Mist is a book filled with unnecessary scenes, poor characterization and little plot. The romance is poorly written and shouldn’t be in the book at all. I give it one out of five stars and would not recommend it to anyone.


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