Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ignite: a tale from the dark side

Title: Ignite (Ignite #1)
Author: Erica Crouch
Penemuel (Pen) fell from grace over a millennium ago, yet there are still times she questions her decision to follow her twin brother, Azael, to Hell. Now that the archangel Michael has returned, threatening Lucifer’s vie for the throne, she begins questioning everything she has always believed.

As Hell prepares for war - spreading a demonic virus and pilfering innocent souls to build an army - the lines separating the worlds blur. Fates erase and the future is left unwritten. Azael is determined that he and his sister will continue to serve as demons together, but for the first time in her life, Pen is not ruled by destiny. She has the freedom of choice.

With choice comes sacrifice, and Pen must decide which side she’s willing to risk everything fighting for: the light, or the dark.

I'm normally not really interested in paranormal books (guess why?). The only books I read about demons are those in the Hex Hall series, which couldn't be more different from this book, but that's a review for another time. Ignite is a book that offers a lot for me to think about, and it might have stayed in my mind longer than I expected. In the good way!

The story is told from a demon, Penemuel's point of view. Reading Pen's voice is such an interesting experience: demons are always thought to be evil, but this one? You'd better think twice. She's a fallen angel, cast away from heaven basically because she made humans literate (which is just one of the ridiculous decision of Heaven....but I digress). While she's been a demon for centuries, and believed that she's evil, she still kind of gets the odd feeling when she does the "dirty jobs". In this novel I get to see how she changes and become truer and more like herself, which I absolutely love.

Even though this is paranormal, there are a lot of character development  that could also fit in contemporary novels. From the start, where Pen's slaying humans in an asylum -- yeah, you heard me, -- to the end, it's not only her actions, but also her narrating voice that change. Maybe it's just me, always being picky and skeptic in the beginning of novels, but I felt that the voice is just so unsure, uncertain, and her speaking voice doesn't match her narrating voice. Like, what's her side? Just decide and get over it! As the story develops, I saw her changing and growing (in a way...she's a demon so technically she can't grow...), and her voice just feels more natural and more comfortable. (Or perhaps it's just me, getting used to the writing style. I DON'T KNOW, I'M NO EXPERT.) There's a lot of inner conflicts going on, which I really like. It not only brought out her character development, but also the main theme of this book, and it doesn't feel preachy at all.

The main theme of this book? Can we talk about that for a moment? [Highlight at your own risk. May contain spoiler.] The debate on good and evil is spot on. Really, who hasn't thought about that before? But Pen worded out all our doubts and thought process, and I was just going YES YES YES all the way! And I really like the fact that Pen doesn't just change once and for all. She goes back and forth between her choices, one moment she's so sure, and then she freaks out and thinks it all over again and gets all confused. Yep, nothing is certain. This is life. Which is freaking annoying but true.

A lot of her inner debates circles around her brother, Azael, and archangel Michael. She doesn't wholly agree with Azael on a lot of matters, but still, she loves her brother. And although Az doesn't admit it, I know he loves so, so dearly. I just know it. The brother-sister relationship is solid, and that's what makes it heartbreaking. There's just the feeling between siblings, you know? Like "I know he's an asshole, but I still love him"? This times a hundred = Pen and Az.

And well, let's talk about Michael. He's an angel. No, I mean yes, literally, but his personality is also just angelic. He's so sweet, innocent, and basically he gives me the impression of a cute little boy looking at me with those big eyes and asking for a cookie. In a way, he IS a little boy, because he was reborn and doesn't remember anything, and that's nothing bad. 
However, what it entails is that when it comes to doesn't fit him. I LOVE it when he and Pen talk about their philosophical views on good and evil, and I totally ship them as the best philosophical BFFs. I just couldn't find romance suitable in this situation, especially that Michael having such an innocent, childlike personality.

The romance is one of my main quibbles when reading this book. In addition to the problem I mentioned, there's also the fact that it comes too fast. It's so predictable, which I shouldn't complain about too much, but it's not just predictable. It's more like she looks at him for the first time, and she's so drawn to him for inexplicable reasons, and of course she consistently denies. Hey, you can like a person at first sight because he/she looks nice, but love at first sight is unacceptable. So my main problem is the scene where they meet for the first time. It's When people meet, there's no magical moment. If their relationship develops through time and understanding, then YES, I'll root for them forever and ever, but not when it's like this.

Phew. That's a lot on the characters.  Now onto the worldbuilding. One of the best things about this story is that it's told from a demon's point of view. We get to see the world in a completely new way. My favorite part about that is the demon version of the Bible. Even though it's just a story, it strengthen the backstory and makes it a bit more believable, and we get to see what may not be told from the other side. My complaint is that Pen being a thousand-year-old demon, shouldn't she sound...older? I get that this is a young adult book, but if she's lived a thousand year, she's not going to still sound like a sixteen-year-old, even though she has a body of a teenager. Either change her age or her as a whole. Not that I don't like her or just doesn't match! Also, I'd really like to know even more about her world, like, if she loves literature so much, isn't there any angel or demon literature that she could study? If not, why? Too busy slaying? Or is it forbidden?

Edit: There's one thing that I forgot to mention in this review. I can't believe I forgot this, since I'm such an astronomy nerd-enthusiast. 

Read this (a piece of conversation from Ignite):
"This is called the North Star," I tell him, indicating the largest and brightest star in the sky. "No matter where you are in the world, if you can find this star, you can find North...."
NO. NO NO NO. I'm sorry, but getting facts right in a novel is pretty important if you're setting the story in "our world".Especially astronomy facts. Okay sorry, I'm biased. But still. 

So what's the problem?

The Northern Star is NOT the largest nor the brightest star in the sky. 
The Northern Star is NOT the largest nor the brightest star in the sky.
The Northern Star is NOT the largest nor the brightest star in the sky.

The Northern Star, or Polaris, has an apparent magnitude of +1.97. While it's not's not bright either. The brightest star in the night sky, if I remember correctly, is Sirius -- it has an apparent magnitude of −1.46 (which is about 23 times brighter than Polaris) (Okay, I totally did some research here. Where do you think the freaky numbers come from?). Even if Sirius hasn't appeared in the night sky, you can still see the Big Dipper for sure, which has stars that are brighter than Polaris. So there. Sorry for being an asshole about this, but...yeah.

All in all, this book has a lot of interesting things going on. The romance is my main quibble, but you might think otherwise, because romance just isn't my thing. It has a refreshing demon's point of view and a topic that's always worthy of discussing. I also really like the character development. This book will make you think, but it also has elements that are entertaining and really unique. Despite the fact that there are a few grammatical error in this book that must have slipped when editing (okay, I'm sure I made some grammatical errors in this review as well...which will probably make me a hypocrite :P ), and the other fact that it got some stuff wrong, I'd still recommend this to people who like romance, philosophical debates and mythology, especially that of angels and demons.


  1. Ooh, I'm tempted, because I do like angel/demon stuff and really haven't read many books on it...but, this doesn't sound like a golden novel. The incorrect facts would REALLY bug me (though I probably wouldn't have known all that about the northern star! I LEARNT SOMETHING JUST NOW XD) but predicable plots and grammatical errors do kind of make me twitchy. So we'll see. xD I enjoyed this review!!

    1. Hahaha I'm glad you learnt something (and more so that I spread the astronomy fun further, hehe)! There are very few grammatical errors, and I'm sure it'll get better in the next books. But hey--the romance is predictable, but the other plotlines are pretty exciting. :) Glad you enjoyed this as well. We'll see! XD