I received an early review copy from the author in return for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my review.
I’m thrilled to be reviewing an advance copy of Memories of Ash! I love Intisar Khanani’s writing so much: I feel like she’s someone similar to me, who got fed up with the clichés and stereotypes plaguing YA. So she up and wrote the book she (we) wanted to read.
So! Memories of Ash. The second book in The Sunbolt Chronicles introduces a whole new city and a whole new host of characters – though a few old friends show up, too. Much like the first book, the story cracks along right from the beginning, with Hitomi quickly being thrown/leaping into another adventure. Her friend and mentor has been arrested for treason, and Hitomi is determined to do all she can to free her.
Khanani describes the Sunbolt Chronicles as a serial instead of a series, so while the books are all connected and having an overarching storyline, each book also has a distinct plot. I’ve read plenty of trilogies where book 1 is introduction, book 2 is everything getting worse, and book 3 is everything getting fixed, usually through a Final Battle. Happily, MoA (Memories of Ash, not the Mall of America) steers away from that.
A few of the other things I loved:
– In Book 1, Hitomi lost her memories. In Book 2, there’s no familiar smell or phrase that brings them all suddenly rushing back. Not everything is fixable, and Hitomi herself doesn’t expect all her memories to return. There are real consequences.
– Hitomi has lots of male friends. Hitomi does not fall in love with all her male friends, and they do not all fall in love with Hitomi. Why does this have to be so rare?
– Killing people is a big deal. Hitomi is still haunted by those in Book 1 whose deaths she feels responsible for. So she’s wholly committed to not killing again, even if that puts her in some tight spots.
– The culture! I love how the setting is primarily based on the Middle East/Northern Africa. I love sharing the beauty of Hitomi’s world, and it’s a good reminder of the simple fact that what’s familiar to me isn’t familiar to everyone. The spices that smell foreign to me smell like home to someone else.
– Hitomi is smart! She makes plans instead of running around willy-nilly and forcing someone to rescue her. Competent heroines are my favorite.
To sum things up, MoA is a fun read that steers clear of a lot of YA clichés and provides a heroine both competent and compassionate.