Home > Mitch's Musings > Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler

Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler

Ashes of Twilight (Ashes #1)
by Kassy Tayler

Ashes of Twilight (Ashes #1)

By: Kassy Tayler

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Rating: 1 Star

Summary: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.

Review:

For those of you thinking of abandoning Ashes of Twilight after the first chapter, I really can’t blame you. There’s just something about Kassy Tayler’s writing, exposition heavy, consisting of chained sentences reading more like a shopping list of events than a story, lots of telling instead of showing, that really doesn’t make this an easy book to read. And although I have to say the writing markedly improves as the story progresses, any improvements in the writing couldn’t make up for the disappointing plot that’s far too predictable for anyone who’s familiar with the dystopian genre.

But truth be told, it all comes down to Wren – she’s a really poor narrator. It’s pretty easy to imagine the basic premise, a society forced to live in a domed city because the rest of the world’s been incinerated by a comet – except, maybe the city’s leaders are lying, maybe the world’s perfectly fine beyond the dome, but Wren though, she just tries way too hard getting her point across. Even beyond the action scenes that’s basically five or six sentences in a row of I followed by one of a selection of verbs in the present tense (which annoyed me to no end, could she be a little more creative in telling me what she’s doing?), she’s just really repetitive, not subtle at all, and leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination. Intuitively, I know Wren yearns to be something more than just a coal miner, a shiner, stuck at the dirty bottom of this society while the royals get their nice houses and live large off everyone else’s hard work, I get it, but it’s really disappointing and gets really old really fast that Wren spends so much time telling and summarizing her problems rather than showing them. I think her overemphasis on how terribly unfair and unjust life in the domed city is actually detracted from the hardscrabble coal mining to support the dome world Wren was supposed to show.

Because, don’t get me wrong, there are actually a few powerful scenes later on. After Wren’s friend Alex is burned to death for discovering the truth, after she meets this guy Pace who’s wanted for also knowing the truth, after she has to hide him in the abandoned coal mining tunnels underneath the city, there’s this really neat scene, just the two of them, on the run, desperate, with nothing but their determination to get the truth out there, and they’re really not doing anything besides sitting next to each other in this cave, but it’s one of the few scenes not overburdened by Wren’s tendency to overexplain everything and it actually works because it’s the rare scene that shows exactly what Wren normally tells. That’s how you make an impact. But unfortunately, the vast majority of the time, it’s just Wren telling me how it is instead of showing through details and actions, and telling just doesn’t have the same effect or impact, no matter how unfair this system of supporting the royals is.

The writing may have been the biggest issue for me, but the plot didn’t really do it either. The summary pretty much gives away everything I needed to know, all that’s left is for Wren and her friends to expose the conspiracy keeping everyone inside the dome, and wow did Wren take her time getting to the bottom of things. In the meantime, Wren and Pace, they had a few scenes, but what dystopian couple don’t they remind me of? I’m actually more intrigued by Alex, Lucy, and David because the three of them at least don’t so blatantly suffer from the plot mandated relationship, their triangle sets the events of the book in motion, and Alex’s death genuinely affects Lucy. But at the end of the day, when Alex is vindicated, when his death is given meaning, when Wren finally figures out why they’ve been kept behind the dome all this time, I’m actually really disappointed. Not only by the reveal with Wren’s father that couldn’t be more cliche or the reason for keeping everyone inside not being because of roving bands of flesh eating mutants (although the people in charge probably wouldn’t have to hide that), no, the actual reason just reinforces my impression that I’ve just read a typical dystopian where the evil dystopian government perpetrates this big lie on its citizens so it can stay in power and for two hundred years everyone’s been really dumb about it and not questioned how the fans and vents worked. Even though Wren must’ve pointed out this fact once every three chapters or so.

I think I would’ve been much more impressed with Ashes of Twilight had the plot twists not been as predictable and generic as they were, but even so, the writing really sank this one, I’m afraid. Disappointment overall, although turns out that canary on the cover’s actually pretty relevant to the plot.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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