Incendiary is a new YA novel set in a world inspired by the Spanish Inquisition. The main character, Ren, is a memory thief, a mage that can steal memories or even drain people of every memory they have. She is a member of the Whispers, the rebels of the former nation Memoria, where most mages, all with different abilities, come from. These people, called the Moria, are persecuted under the cruel King of the empire that now rules their lands.
As a child, Ren’s abilities were used by the King as a weapon, and her troubled past makes it difficult for the others to trust her. When a mission goes wrong, the story unfolds.
TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle did a spontaneous buddyread when my Fairyloot Edition arrived. We read it in about a week, and it disappointed me, as current YA usually does. But that is a story for another post.
There really was not much worldbuilding to speak of. Spanish Inquisition, sure, that sounds new, but in the end, we have mages that are either persecuted or controlled by the crown. Nothing new here.
There was nothing that made me think of Spain except for the repeated use of the word aguadulce. There is no mention of climate, location of other nations, or anything else.
Mages having different powers that can be enhanced by a specific metal is also nothing new, Mistborn it is. In difference to Mistborn, the magic system is not thought through at all, stuff just happens because it fits the story.
The main character is a whiny teen. That’s ok, I guess. But she is also not the sharpest tool in the shed. The plot twists could be seen from miles away.
My main problem with her was that everything happened TO her. She is not an agent in the story, she gets pushed around like a puppet so the story can happen.
Ren actually has a boyfriend at the start of the story. That’s unusual for YA. I’m 90% sure there will be a love triangle in book 2, though.
The book feels as if the author stitched together some ideas of bestselling novels to tell a story, and then lets her puppet main character walk through it. I don’t know if the author thinks her readers are all idiots, because Ren repeatedly comes to the wrong conclusions or assumptions. Either we are to think she is an idiot, or the author thinks her readers can’t think ahead.
Overall, there is nothing that I can say in defense of this book. I have gotten a bit cruel in past reviews, especially since I started reading ARCs. I gave it 1 star on Goodreads, but I think it probably deserves 1.5