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Author: Zoraida Córdova
Narrator(s): Frankie Corzo
Run Time: 14 hours, 27 minutes
Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, violence and gore (NOTE: If you believe I have failed to include any necessary trigger warnings, please inform me and I will add them)
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.
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Friends, Romans, country…people! We have gathered here today to celebrate a WONDERFUL book: Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova! Every once in a while, you find a book and you’re just like… “This. This be that good shit.” And that, my friends, was the case with Incendiary, which, let me assure you, is a new all-time favorite of mine.
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- Ren! I’ll be perfectly honest: Ren is incredibly flawed. But. I also think her perspective is an absolutely brilliant one to tell this story from! And I’ll admit, she grew on me, in part because she is so flawed. Ren is such a complex, layered, nuanced character with an emotionally and morally intricate history and loyalties that are equally as complicated, and I really appreciated that. I also love that Córdova allowed Ren to be both messy and good, which is something that I think many YA writers don’t often make room for their characters to be, especially when it comes to their female characters! We see Ren struggle with her guilt and with who she knows herself to be versus how people see her, as well as with the fact that her reaction to that dichotomy isn’t always the best reaction, and yet Ren is also allowed the room to recognize her mistakes and to grow and change and to be good. Ren isn’t some pillar of morality, she’s a young woman who has made mistakes in the past, still makes mistakes in the present, and most likely will continue to make mistakes in the future. She’s the epitome of a human being, recognizing her own wrongs and striving to make amends in such a way that she won’t be broken by her own guilt and shame. And that’s precisely what makes her a compelling and relatable character to follow.
- Thematic Complexity! I think a trap that a lot of YA books fall into is “black and white” moralizing. Even when you have “morally gray” main characters, their actions tend to fall solidly on the side that we as a global society generally recognize as morally “right”. And for all their “morally gray” grumbling, those characters also generally recognize “right” from “wrong” (however begrudgingly) and don’t typically have too many “complex” emotions surrounding those concepts. Incendiary diverges from that norm in the way it examines the emotional complexity surrounding the ideas of “right” and “wrong.” We see Ren struggle with the nearly crippling guilt of her childhood actions, despite understanding that she was just an innocent, young child who didn’t understand the impacts of her actions. We see Justice Mendez is an objectively abhorrent human being…and yet, we also see that he is kind to Ren . We see that The Whispers are on the objectively “good” side of the fight—fighting to free the oppressed—but we also see that most of them are genuinely unkind to Ren, despite the fact that she was an innocent child whose deadly actions were a result of her being as much a victim as any other Moria and despite the fact that she has shown her guilt and shame and clearly demonstrated her trustworthiness time and time again. Again and again we are shown that kindness and moral “rightness” are very very much not the same thing—an idea which is a pretty tough truth to present to a young adult audience, yet one which Córdova conveys with ease, clarity, and nuance.
- Plot & Pacing! So, by now, you might be able to guess that Incendiary is a book that is full of action and intrigue and, well, friends, you aren’t wrong! The plot of Incendiary kept me gripped and guessing at every twist and turn! Was Dez really dead? Who was the mysterious magpie?? What was the deal with Castien??? I needed to know!! I gotta hand it to Córdova, she kept me hanging on for one heck of a wild ride! I do know that some reviewers have complained that Incendiary is a tad predictable and, while I, personally, don’t think that’s necessarily true, I also don’t go into books with the intention of trying to figure out how the book will go, but rather prefer to let the story unfold before me. If you are a reader like me, then I think I can say with sureness that you’ll love this book as much as I did!
- The Supporting Cast! It’s no secret by now that I’m a fan of a strong supporting cast which has purpose in the story and enhances other story elements. And, boy oh boy, Incendiary doesn’t disappoint in this regard! Incendiary has a cast of colorful and complex characters that played perfectly into the plot and captured my heart and mind and imagination instantly! So, if you too like intricate casts, Incendiary is absolutely a book you should check out!
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- Repetition. The only thing I really noticed that very slightly detracted from my experience was the repetition of some information one too many times. This may just be a “me thing,” but there were certain pieces of information that got repeated throughout the book, in the exact or nearly the exact same wording, and, for me, it was just kind of like, “Okay, I got it the first time.” But, obviously, as you can see, it wasn’t a big enough issue to even knock a star off, it was just something I noticed and figured I might mention.
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Boy oh boy, am I glad to have read this book! It’s rare for me to find a book that is so much fun, but also gets me thinking deeply, so Incendiary was such a treat to read. The only thing leaving me kinda bummed is that I have to wait until next year for the sequel (there’s not even a set release date yet just the nebulous “coming in 2021”!) which…*sigh of despair*… But I suppose at least I’l have plenty of time to concoct all the ridiculous fan theories that my big ol’ book loving heart could desire!
Anyhoo, that’s all for today friends. Until next time…
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MY STAR RATING
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SPILL THE BEANS, FRIENDS!
- Have you read Incendiary?
- If so, what are your thoughts?
- If not, is it on your TBR?