Ashes of Twilight: Ashes of Twilight Trilogy, Book 1
Does fate exist in a dystopian world? Apparently it does, if only in the world vividly and thoughtfully spun by storyteller Kassy Tayler in her recent release, ASHES OF TWILIGHT.
Sixteen-year-old Wren MacAvoy has always longed for something beyond the confines of her life. As a Shiner, she spends her time working, sleeping and living in the mines far below the domed city that is her home --- and in fact, her entire world. The dome, designed by scientists 200 years ago to shelter a sliver of humankind from the comet careening towards earth and ensure the continuance of the royal bloodline, has proved both a blessing and a curse. While protecting Wren’s society from a fiery end, it has also created a cycle of servitude in which the lower classes must infinitely serve those above.
"ASHES OF TWILIGHT is filled with rich descriptions of life underground and the carefully imagined realities of what human life becomes when it is forced to adapt to inhuman living conditions."
But even the threat of the vengeful flames outside of the dome and the knowledge that she is simply a cog in a machine can’t keep Wren’s curiosity at bay. She continues to venture outside of the mines, searching for something even she cannot name.
That is, at least, until one day a horrific event disrupts her routine. After witnessing the death of her good friend Alex, another Shiner who vowed to escape the dome, she can’t get his last words out of her head. If he has really been burned alive by the fires outside of the dome, as the authorities claim, why is it that he insists, “The sky is blue”? And why have the tyrannical guards (called “bluecoats”) who rule Wren’s world with an iron fist begun suspecting Wren of involvement in Alex’s escape? More terrifying still, what are the consequences Wren will face if she continues to pursue the questions that keep appearing at each turn?
Suddenly Wren is catapulted into the spotlight of her community and of those above. Forced by circumstance (and a blossoming affection) to take an outsider into her closed community, Wren must risk everything she knows and loves to find the truth about the dome and what lays beyond. As Wren dramatically falls for former bluecoat Pace, she has to reevaluate what she believes and who she trusts and come to terms with her own role as a leader.
ASHES OF TWILIGHT is filled with rich descriptions of life underground and the carefully imagined realities of what human life becomes when it is forced to adapt to inhuman living conditions. Tayler does an excellent job of seeing through the eyes of her protagonist to create a detailed dystopian vision. Still, certain plotlines are not as compelling as others, and it is clear that Tayler prefers writing from the perspective of the grittier denizens of her world as opposed to their more privileged peers. This leads to a bit of unevenness in terms of tone. In the end, however, Tayler’s attention to detail saves the drabber sections of the book. Wren’s observation that the copper trees produced for the royals’ pleasure are poor adaptations of the real thing because “[they] can’t sigh and sway with the wind from the fans” is a jewel. After all, only a girl who has spent her life under a dome could find trees swaying in an artificial breeze the epitome of natural beauty.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on November 14, 2012