Where to begin? There is honestly nothing more difficult than writing the opening sentence to a review—especially of a book that deserves the very best opening conceivable. No doubt there are and will be better phrased reviews of this novel, more beautiful adjectives used, clearer thoughts expressed.
But that’s not why I’m here. My purpose is to gush exceedingly about Ignite and make absolutely no sense while doing so.
So here we go.
First off, I just want to say that Jenna is actually a friend of mine, and of course I’d expected she’d be a good writer from her blog posts and such...but I hadn’t read a single fictional word of hers until Ignite. So maybe I’m biased? I don’t know. All I know is that despite all of this, I was wholly unprepared for how well-written Ignite is.
Not to mention this is literally the first sci-fi book I think I’ve ever read...so I’m really not an expert on the genre. I mean, there were serious Marvel vibes (and I kinda detected some The Incredibles vibes too…), and I’d know all about that, but as for actually writing a sci-fi superhero novel, I’m clueless. Maybe there were some technical things that didn’t line up or some things that should have been done differently—I don’t know.
All I know is that this is the best sci-fi book I’ve read. But that’s not saying much, is it?
Technically speaking, Jenna is a consummate writer. Her prose is very good—her voice and Scarlett’s voice came through strong; she perfectly balanced action and description with thought and emotion; there was clarity in her writing without it being blunt. To be honest, her writing reminded me a lot of Kara Swanson’s, so there’s that.
Her pacing was amazing too. In a way, some parts seemed rushed and others seemed to drag, but woven together, everything read so smoothly. I think she slowed down on things that deserved more “screen time,” so to speak, and sped up on things that were meant to move more quickly. I never felt like something was missing or milked, you know?
And the plot? Well, maybe it was clichéd—I don’t know. Labs and evil scientists and superpowers are used so often in fantasy, speculative, and sci-fi fiction, so in some ways, Jenna was using tried-and-true tropes. But I never felt like I was reading “just another superhero book” or that “same old story,” and not because I’ve read tons in the genre or anything (trust me, I can detect a cliché in a genre I’ve never read from a mile away)...it was because of the characters.
Every single one of them felt so real. So different and unique and vibrant and full of life. From Scarlett, our heroine, to Ares (#aresfanclub), to Nadia and Seth, to Dr. Bailey, to Rez and Ivan and the rest of the gang. I actually liked Scarlett and her point-of-view—the way she grew, the way her mindset changed. It was bound to happen, yeah, but going on that journey with her was an experience.
Ares and Nadia and Seth, though? Boy howdy, were they great characters or what? Most of the time, your side characters are clichéd and under-developed and kinda boring—but not these guys! Jenna did SUCH a fantastic job bringing them to life and portraying their emotions and internal struggles! I really wish I’d had their POVs! (Especially Ares… #aresfanclub #iwillusethishashtagasmanytimesasittakestogetmypointacrossthataresisabsolutelyadorableandishiphimandscarlettsobadrightnowandjustughilovehim)
As for Dr. Bailey? He was such a good antagonist! I literally kept going back and forth on whether he was secretly good or totally evil and then BOOM! PLOT TWIST! Seriously, once Jenna threw in that epic twist (that I will definitely not spoil), Dr. Bailey’s character just developed a hundred new layers, you know?
And REZ. OH MY GOSH MY BABY I LOVE THIS MAN TO BITS AND PIECES AND WHY?????? Okay, I will spare you the spoilers, but guys. I mean, we all knew Rez was “the guy,” right? So of course I couldn’t wait to meet him and I loved him from first sight and ugh. There is SO MUCH I want to say but I CAN’T. WHYYYYYYYY???????
As much as I adored the characters and was so captivated by the story itself, my absolute favorite part was (you guessed it) the theme. Like, had this been any other book or any other author, I think I would’ve struggled with the whole acceptance and true self vibes, but Jenna just wove so much spiritual truth into the story that I couldn’t help but applaud her. So, yeah, I guess you could take it one way, but I saw a story that highlighted the sanctity of life and our God-given right as humans—all of us, no matter your race or age—to live and fulfill His purpose for our lives.
Not to mention, you know, the fact that mah man kept quoting Scripture and, you know, talking about God and stuff. Like, my heart. I know how strong of a Christian Jenna is, but I hadn’t expected to see the Bible and God so present in this story. And, I mean, it wasn’t preachy at all. It was so subtle, but it really opened it up for the next book to kinda explore God more and His love for all His creations more and, yeah, I just loved that.
I mean, there coulda been some romance, but I’m not gonna get pushy on y’all. This was just a perfect YA story that really kept its focus on what needed to be said, you know? Family, love, sacrifice, human rights—stuff like that. Stuff that inspires and encourages—not stuff that beats you down or depresses you or makes you feel dirty, like most YA (well, all fiction) does these days.
Just everything about Ignite was perfect. How strong but unassuming Scarlett was. How developed and inspiring her journey was. How beautiful the story of a God who loves us all was. How action-packed and well-paced this story was. How unexpected the plot twists were. How awesome my babies Rez and Ares were… #iamgoingtostartarezfanclubnow
Anyway, I’ll end the gushing now, before y’all get bored. Bottom line? Read the book, people. You won’t regret it, okay? And I’m not just sayin’ that ‘cause I’m, like, in love with all the characters and the cover or anything. I’m sayin’ that ‘cause it’s basically gospel truth right now, you hear me? So, yeah. Show some love to another amazing, Holy Spirit-filled young indie author and get your copy of Ignite now!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Author
Jenna Terese believes stories are powerful. That’s why she’s dedicated to creating fiction that will impact the world. You can find this INFP dreaming about the future, fangirling over her favorite books, geeking out about Marvel, playing piano, or sipping a chai tea latte as she writes sci-fi novels.
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