Review: Smokeless Fire by Samantha Young

Title: Smokeless Fire (Fire Spirits #1)
Author: Samantha Young
Published: October 21, 2011
Pages: 357
Series: Fire Spirits (second installment, 'Scorched Skies' published March 9, 2012)
Source: purchased

Amazon Summary: For the last two years Ari’s life has been anything but normal and on her 18th birthday, when her friends surprise her with a gimmick genie claiming to grant wishes, Ari discovers the truth. The tragic and strange occurrences surrounding her 16th birthday were not coincidental and her life is never going to be the same again.

Ari’s real parents are not normal. They are not loving. They are not human.

They are myth.

They are Smokeless Fire.

They are Jinn.

I need to officially stop yapping about how I don’t read supernatural novels because here I go again with another one.
Before ‘Smokeless Fire’ I had no knowledge about the Jinn mythology so this was all extremely new to me. Getting to learn about the story and the history of the Jinn very much from scratch has been interesting as well as exhausting. I experienced the first half of ’Smokeless Fire’ to be jam-packed with information and explanation. At some point I felt like I was practically studying about Jinn, and that just gets tiring and boring. I was relieved once I got past all the explanations and whys.

I appreciated the original storyline and the maze-like plot with surprises along the way, but it wasn’t believable. It didn’t feel real or likely in the slightest, imaginable way - all coming down to how free of emotional conflict the story was.

A lot happens in ‘Smokeless Fire’ - threads were pulled and then left hanging without a purpose which made me wonder if the story would’ve turned out more intricate and personal if Young had solely stuck to the main plotline.

As for the characters (which there were several interesting of):

The Red King was truly hilarious at times. I liked him for his sarcasm and shockingly up-too-date way of speaking, but that was also the things that didn’t fit in with the almighty Jinn King. For what he was supposed to be he wasn’t authenthic and I failed to perceive him as powerful and intimidating.

Charlie was like a sidetrack but being there all the time to distract and put a barrier between Ari and Jai. I expected him to have much more depth since in the beginning Young hinted that Charlie was a big deal, but he turned fainter as the story went. As soon as the Jinn issue kicks in Charlie ends up beng a third-friend-who-just-won’t-give-up-and-go-home type of character.

My favorite of them all was Jai - mysterious and level-headed. He was the most real one. I appreciated (the few times) you got Jai’s point-of-view because what he was really thinking and feeling would clash with how Ari interpreted it. Also, for Young to have Jai be a few years older was refreshing and suiting (I don’t really understand why many authors make only a year or two sound so 
much older it’s pratically impossible in the world of YA).

Finally, Ari, our protagonist. I didn’t gather much from her other than being mentally strong and solid. It’s a nice change from the many protagonists who are on a merry crying-go-round; when Ari did finally give in and cry, it was for something real.

Though, to what mainly bothered me with ‘Smokeless Fire’: the lack of reactions. Nada, nothing. Ari’s literally thrust into a world of Jinn, supernatural powers, strange creatures,
another existing world.. and she takes it VERY WELL. She finds out she’s not
human.. and takes it VERY WELL. She’s so accepting and understanding - zero emotional battle. It’s time to be in a total, full-on freak out mode. Her reaction wasn’t believable at all. Even how easily it was for Charlie to take it all in was ridiculous.

[Slight spoilers!] How Ari went from referring to The White King as her father so out of the blue and the only father she’d known as her dad for 18 years, as Derek, was very bothersome and unlikely; as well as how she so very cooperatively agrees that it’s for the best if she disconnects herself from family and friends and just leaves. I’d wished for it to be more overwhelming but it was barely significant to acknowledge. [Spoilers ended!]

‘Smokeless Fire’ is supposedly a YA Urban Fantasy Romance but truthfully, had I purchased the book expecting romance I would’ve been very disappointed. It’s not a romance, I’m sure the relationships are further inspected in the later installments but this first book just didn’t have any of it. Young would regularly hint on romance but it never came to that.

On a last note, the ending just left me hanging. Like, huh? It ended in such an unsatisfactory and abruptly manner. I won’t be purchasing the second installment but I recommend anyone reading this if you’re looking for a non-mainstream, fantasy read.


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