Ashes of Twilight
by Kassy Tayler (Author)
Nicola Barber (Narrator)
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 24 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: AudioGO
- Audible.com Release Date: November 14, 2012
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-19th century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus, there are those who wonder: Is there life outside the dome? Or is the world still consumed by fire?
When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. "The sky is blue." What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy, and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.
The city was built with glass domes and air filters to shelter humanity from the fire expected to burn up the surface when, in 1878, a comet was on collision with earth. The society was set up to protect the bloodline of the royals in England. The various classes are restricted by their duties to preserve the lifestyle and line of the pampered royals with their arranged marriages. The coal miners live below in caves, providing coal to keep the fans running. Above ground, workers maintain the giant fans and clean the domes; others serve as gardeners, bakers, weavers and the various merchants who sell wares in the markets. Enforcers , called “blue coats”, guard the privileged royals from all the lower classes. Although the system was set up without criminal expectation, through the 200 years that have passed, a group of evil thugs, the filchers, dwell on the fringes and prey on those they can snatch in the streets.
Wren is an underground worker, a “shiner”, tending the ponies who pull the coal carts. She is now sixteen and has always had a bit of a crush on Alex but he is focused on Lucy. That leaves Wren stuck with her best friend’s brother, James, who is impetuous and sometimes cruel. Wren is a bit of a dreamer who sneaks up to the dome each day to watch the sunrise. She stares at the dome and wonders if there is really fire outside as the leaders say or if the world outside has returned to the green earth it used to be.
Alex and a few of their friends have started to gather as “seekers.” The group includes members across the class structure, including some royals who do not want to be forced into marriage. Suddenly the world as they know it is plunged into uproar. Wren witnesses a burned-alive Alex declaring with his last breath that “the sky is blue.” Alex had made a run for the outside but the blue coats dragged him back to let him die in the streets. Wren is chased by a blue coat, Pace, who has seen and heard more than he should. Soon the two are in hiding, wondering about the secrets beyond the dome and wondering what their future may bring. The younger miners want to investigate further but the elders are reluctant to cause trouble.
The story starts with Wren wondering about the Bible and the Heaven she knows little about. I enjoyed Wren’s faithful courage, steady determination and inclination to do the right thing even if that means seeking answers and freedom that could bring danger. Pace is a good match for her as he too is loyal, ready to protect her and ready to fight ‘the system.’ I also like how they both care for animals - the ponies and the canary Pace names Pip.
This is an engaging YA dystopia with wonderful world building and some good surprises. There is a good blend of action and ideological dreams. I recommend this as a good read for those who like The Hunger Games and Divergent. I like that there is less senseless killing than in Hunger Games, although there is violence through the revolution that occurs. I will be interested in the sequel when released.
Audio Notes: Ms. Barber does a great job giving emotional input to Wren’s tale. She conveys her wonder, her frustration, her fear and sorrow. She presents the other characters equally well. My only concern was that the narration was very soft making it hard to hear. Although that might have been the fault of my MP3, I realized the problem exists with the Media player too.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Wren has to make a decision when escape becomes possible: