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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Audiobook Review: Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler

SERIES: Ashes Trilogy, Book #1
AUTHOR: Kassy Tayler
NARRATOR: Nicola Barber
PUBLICATION DATE: November 13, 2012
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 9 hrs and 24 mins
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Dystopia, Science Fiction/Steampunk
Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth 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.

I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

I loved this YA dystopian novel!

This story is told in the first-person from the perspective of Wren MacAvoy, a 16 year-old girl who works as a “shiner” so named because of the silver cast to a shiner's eyes which glow in the dark like a cat’s eyes. Like Wren and many others before her, she knows only of life inside the dome which was erected before a comet crashed down to Earth and engulfed the world in flames. The residents fall into two classes: Royalty and everyone else. The lower classes exist to serve the royals. Everything is chosen for the people: Their jobs, where they live, and when they marry. The city under the dome is small, and there is a limited amount of space. People cannot marry until there is a place for them, so a new household cannot be established until someone dies so that a home is freed up. 

Wren, like all shiners, lives in an underground cavern. She never knew her mother, who died in childbirth. All Wren knows about her father is that he lives above ground. Her mother never told anyone who he was. Wren has been raised by her maternal grandfather, who is the oldest of the shiners. She felt that she was always treated as an outsider by the other shiners because her father was not a shiner. One boy, Alex, always made an effort to include Wren and they have always been close friends.

Without the shiners, life inside the dome would not exist. They are responsible for tunnelling underground to find coal mines. The coal fuels the steam-powered engines which turn the large fans that circulate the air. Due to the nature of their work, the shiners do not have a very long lifespan. Most die by age 50 of black lung, which slowly and painfully suffocates them.

Wren works the night-shift in the mines. At daybreak when her work ends, she goes above-ground and climbs up to the rooftops where she watches the sun rise each day. Shiners are not typically permitted to go above ground, so she has to be careful not to be seen. Most people wear goggles above ground to protect their eyes from the smoke, which helps her to hide her identity. Sometimes, she swears that she sees shadows outside the dome, which does not make sense because they have always been told that there is nothing but flames outside.

What the Royals do not realize is that the shiners are running out of coal. They have not found any new coal deposits in a long time, and the fans have to work harder to clear the air.

There are some people, called Seekers, who believe that there is a world outside of the dome – and not one engulfed in flames. When one of the shiners escapes from the dome, his charred body is brought back inside as a warning to everyone what will happen should they try to run. Before the victim dies, he tells Wren, “The sky is blue!” which makes no sense at all! How can the sky be blue if the earth is covered in flames?

I was really captivated by Tayler’s prose. Her world-building is phenomenal! Wren is a very introspective girl, and I feel as though I really got to know her and could relate to her. Her pensiveness gives this book an almost literary feel. What I found most interesting was the vast difference in what Wren thought of herself as compared to how others perceived her. It is funny how we can be so wrong about ourselves! Although Wren appears to have fallen quickly for her beau, Pace, it is understandable given the circumstances. They are thrown together and must trust and depend on one another to survive, so that naturally paves the way for stronger emotions to develop.

I cannot wait to read the next in the trilogy, Shadows of Glass, which is expected to be released in July 2013.

Nicola Barber's narration was impeccable. She was perfectly suited for the voice of Wren, and she made a great novel even better! She was flawless - pure ear candy!


5 stars! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it! A big thanks to AudioGO and Audiobook Jukebox for the opportunity to review this book!

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