Author: Frankie Rose
Series: Blood & Fire (Book 1)
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Falin Kitsch was born to fight. Her halo stops her feeling fear and pain, something she knows and accepts, even welcomes at times. It is the way of Sanctuary. Trues are born to rule, allowed to feel and don’t have to fight. For them, the monthly amphi-match means sport, money, and family honour. For Falins, it means life or death. They are owned by the Trues, who decide when they will fight and who they will fight. And they decide Falin Kitsch will fight her training partner, Falin Asha.
Both Falin have been fighting for a long time and both are undefeated. It will, no doubt, be a good match. Their halos will ensure they don’t feel love or guilt. It is a surprise to Falin Kitsch, then, when Falin Asha seems too easy an opponent. And an even bigger one when he falls on her sword, tearing her halo from her neck as he does.
Without her halo, Falin Kitsch begins to feel, becomes Kit and escapes Sanctuary. Unsure what to do and where to go she finds herself, literally, in deep water, before being saved by Ryka and taken to his home in Freetown. There, Kit finds, emotions often run high…and fighting is still a way of life. Just like Sanctuary, there are rules that must be followed and obeyed. Never sure what these are or what they mean, Kit struggles, falling foul of almost everyone but Ryka and his family before becoming part of a plan to free the people of Sanctuary.
Halo is a Young Adult book set in a dystopian future and it follows the same model as others of this kind I have read – the Hunger Games series is probably the best example though I know there are others. There is a dictatorial class structure, with “haves” and “have nots”. The “have nots” are oppressed with a few members realising this isn’t the way life should be. Then a girl becomes the spark that lights the flame for revolution, often unwittingly and unwillingly until, through lots of mis-understandings, she realises who she is and the power she holds inside her. At their best, these books are great stories of empowerment for young women.
Halo does well showing what young women can do and doesn’t fall too far into the love story that is also (inevitably) part of the story. It did feel a bit to formulaic for me but, that said, I still enjoyed it. I thought it was well written with a good pace. The characters, by the end, had started to come to life – they just did it too slowly for me. I have to remember, though, that I’m not the target audience and so don’t feel I can be too critical. I imagine I would have loved this as a teenager.
I will be honest and say I got this as a free book on iBooks and it has been sat on my iPad for a while. I think the second book has come out since. I might be persuaded to part some hard earned cash for it because I think there is potential here…and I want to know what happens next!