Firelands has a lot going for it, including an interesting setting, fast-paced plot and compelling characters. This is a believable story of the aftermath of a horrific natural disaster and what happens when one group ends up with too much power.
After the ecosystem is wiped out from a volcano eruption, Joseph seizes power and controls the food supply. He and his followers, Josephites or “Joes” live in Promise City. Those who don’t follow Joseph live outside Promise City and are known as Seculars or Secs, and are forced to be tenant farmers for the Josephites.
Deena, AKA Archer, is the main character. She has a bit of an attitude but I like her; there is kindness and vulnerability under the attitude. She is loyal and doing her best to keep the people in her community fed. She has also lost someone she cared for deeply and hasn’t recovered from that loss. She loves her dog Daisy and as far as I’m concerned dog lovers can’t be all bad.
Quinn is Archer’s childhood friend, and he is the target of Archer’s attitude a few times. He brings a balance to Archer’s character; he’s much calmer than she is.
Granny is the level-headed matriarch who raised her orphaned granddaughter.
Tamar, AKA Bunny, is a young Christian who has a connection to Joseph and can provide a means for the community to break away from the Josephites. I initially wasn’t sure what to think of her, but I did end up liking her. Archer doesn’t like her at first either but that changes.
Archer and some other community members boldly take steps to begin the process of breaking the power of this cult. How they go about doing so will keep the reader engaged until the very end. It’s sad and intense but also hopeful.
A word of caution: Although the theme is similar in some ways to the Hunger Games, the language and situations are much more graphic and I wouldn’t recommend Firelands for those under 17. That isn’t a criticism; it’s an observation. It’s very well written and the graphic nature does fit. I just say that so readers are aware.