Author: Susan Jane Bigelow
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Superheroes
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Publication date: January 17th 2012
The last Sky Ranger of the now-vanished Extrahuman Union, defeated by his former allies and detested by everyone else, fled Earth and the repressive Confederation in a desperate attempt to put the past to rest. But when his refugee ship crashes on a desert planet, his life is thrown back into chaos, and his future becomes less certain than ever. In that hostile environment, he meets abrasive, impulsive Renna, and Dee, a flighty, secretive orphan girl, who are the only two refugees who can stand him.
When Dee wanders into the wilderness, Sky Ranger chases after her, touching off a series of events that lead them and their companions from the deserts of Seera Terron through alien Räton space and into the very heart of the Confederation itself. Sky Ranger must confront his past and a intrusive, ruthless government if he wants to be able to save both Dee and what remains of his people, the Extrahumans, from utter destruction.
FLY INTO FIRE, the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed BROKEN, is a story of hope, adventure, friendship, and sacrifice, in a world where the only freedom to be found is within.
Stand alone or series: Book two in the Extrahumans series
How did I get this book: Review copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book: I read Broken, the first book in the series, last year and loved it so much, it was one of my Notable Reads of 2011. I had been waiting for moars ever since. Now, to wait for book 3.
It’s been three years since the explosive events at the end Broken. The last Sky Ranger of the recently extinguished Extrahuman Union and former Confederation golden boy is now on the run for his life, aboard a refugee spaceship en route to freedom from an oppressive government. When the ship crashes on a (mostly) desert planet, the survivors strike an uneasy alliance in order to survive the hostile environment, hoping for rescue, fearing the wrong ship will find them. Amongst them are Renna, a capable woman with natural leader tendencies and Dee, a teenager with strong Extrahuman abilities. The two are the only ones who can stand spending any time with Sky Ranger (who is feared and mistrusted by everybody else) and together they share a common goal: to forget the past and start over. After a series of events in which they get separated and Dee is taken by ruthless, cruel members of the government to have her abilities tested, each of them goes on their own journey across the universe and in search for each other.
Introducing many new characters, plenty of new locations across the universe, a whole plethora of dangers and political intrigue Fly Into Fire is a very ambitious sequel to the excellent Broken (one of my notable reads of 2011). One of the greatest strengths of this author is how her writing relies very little on exposition and her story basically flows from one point to another (be it in space or time). Although the aforementioned flow is not without some hiccups: a lot happens in this story to several different people and at different times and some of the transitions do read awkwardly. I also thought some of the villains were verging on stereotypically villainous but these are my only real criticisms to an otherwise very very good read.
In terms of story Fly Into Fire is quite complex. At its core, it can certainly be described as an adventurous romp to save a friend but there are many other threads that combine to make this an intricate story. There is the overall political unrest against an oppressing central Government and well as localised political intrigue where many different people vie for power. There are several different peoples with their diverse social and philosophical beliefs. There are different planets, with different economic situations and social and political standings – and this is all part of a fully integrated world-building.
We also get a better look at what it means to be Extrahuman in a universe that mostly despises and fears them. In this world, all the Extrahumans where made to join the Extrahuman Union where they worked for the Confederation (until they were all killed). It is easy to see the awe and the fear that humans feel towards Extrahumans and it is equally easy to understand the motivations (although not necessarily agree with them) that any government might have to try and control them. This is utterly brilliant and of course, the best sort of Dystopian idea – it stems from pragmatism and it turns ugly when pragmatism is replaced by exploitation and discrimination. There is a point when one can’t help but to think that the Extrahumans were made to be “extra” and therefore set apart, not by their powers but by the circumstances of their lives. How could this not be the case when they are stripped of everything that makes them remotely human: a name, a family, a choice? Another very interesting aspect of this world is the apparent rules concerning their powers. I really appreciated how there is only a limited amount of known powers (fire starting, prescience, flying, healing and a handful more), most Extrahumans can have more than one power and they can also come in different strengths and with severe limitations.
The characters are another positive aspect of Fly Into Fire. I loved both Dee and Renna and their determination and vulnerability. There is also a very subtle thread about Renna’s past –she is a trans woman and this is added to the story delicately and thoughtfully. It is not what her arc is about but is important part of who she is.
With regards to Sky Ranger, I am not entirely convinced about his redemption but this only speaks of how complex these characters are as not one of them is completely good or completely bad, especially not the Extrahumans. Although some of them are truly heroic, heroism is not something that is intrinsic to being “extra”. And how much did I love to see Penny “Broken” Silverwing again? A whole lot, that’s how much.
Finally, there is a really cool Alien concept of family in these books , called Rhin which relies on bonds of love and friendship rather than on being bonds of blood. At the end of the book, I feel like these characters are part of my Rhin.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: This part of the scene when Sky Ranger and Penny meet up again and fly together after a long, long time. I love this scene because of the sheer happiness the two felt:
They darted from building to building, from roof to overhang, from shadow to light and back to shadow, chasing and looping after one another, hearts beating together in exhilaration. This is what it’s supposed to be like, thought Sky Ranger, as Penny surged beside him.
At first, they were careful, hesitant, not daring to be seen. They flew close to the ground, and hid in the shadows together. But Penny drove Sky Ranger on, taunting him by flying higher, staying out in the open for longer. He strained to keep up with her effortless flight, trying to catch the silver mane of hair spreading out behind her.
Memory flooded him. The city below could be New York. It could be fifteen years earlier. How he had missed this! They raced faster, heedless of where they were or who saw. They dove and rose, twirling around one another, in and out of loops, back and forth. Then Penny shot straight up into the sky. Gathering his strength, Sky Ranger turst after her, trying desperately not to lose sight of the silver speck receding into the distance. She was so, so fast. He’d forgotten that.
Rating: 7 – Very Good, leaning toward 8.
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