ARC Review: Firestarter by Tara Sim

Firestarter (Timekeeper #3)Firestarter by Tara Sim
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The crew of the Prometheus is intent on taking down the world’s clock towers so that time can run freely. Now captives, Colton, Daphne, and the others have a stark choice: join the Prometheus’s cause or fight back in any small way they can and face the consequences. But Zavier, leader of the terrorists, has a bigger plan–to bring back the lost god of time.

As new threats emerge, loyalties must shift. No matter where the Prometheus goes–Prague, Austria, India–nowhere is safe, and every second ticks closer toward the eleventh hour. Walking the line between villainy and heroism, each will have to choose what’s most important: saving those you love at the expense of the many, or making impossible sacrifices for the sake of a better world.

Warnings: torture (including electrocution), gun violence, physical assault, death of family member, self-harm, bloodletting for use in magic

I was very excited for the finale of the Timekeeper series, and with the slow-moving, but expansive sophomore novel, I was hoping that Firestarter would jump into things right away and move us towards a build-up that would be exhilarating enough for a finale. Granted, you can’t expect a 500+ pages book to keep the momentum up throughout, but my initial reservations about this book had less to do with pacing, and more with plot progression.

The first half of the book took me more than a week to get through – there was action, and lots of things going on, but in the grand scheme of things they felt inconsequential as they were circling around the same thing: the impasse between the Prometheus crew and Danny’s group of friends. Also, Daphne is avoiding Akash because she has learned that he was allied with the rebels of Kalki ship, and Colton and Danny are at odds as to how much to comply with Zavier’s wishes. They don’t want to reveal the secret of the clock towers because of the fear he will use it to free Aetas and thus causing all the clock spirits to fade away. Not great for Colton, but there’s only so much they could stall, you know? Plus, people getting kidnapped, a clock tower being planned for destruction, then characters freed, then kidnapped again was wearing me out.

But then around the midpoint of the novel, a new antagonist emerged and the novel really kicked into gear. Suddenly the plot felt like it was moving forward in a definite direction, the promises of the synopsis finally coming to fruition. The second half of the novel actually felt like it was worthy of the finale label, as we race towards a climax that has your nerves screaming “oh god oh god what is going to happen?”. That (and the deaths, some of which I didn’t feel were entirely justified) was heartbreaking, and the subsequent move toward the ending was filled with so much pain with just a smidgen of hope.

Looking at it as a whole, I feel there were ways the first half could have been trimmed to keep the pace and plot progression consistent. The writing was otherwise very tight – the characterization was on point, the different desires of the characters and their motives and actions making and breaking set plans, the raw emotional power of some scenes, the action-packed battles – all of it was done well. But that first half is the reason I have to give it a lower rating: it just took a lot of patience to get through.

Is it diverse? Two of the main characters are gay men, and the third main character is biracial. There is a sapphic interracial couple; and several secondary Indian characters, as well as some secondary and minor queer characters. One of the secondary characters has a prosthetic arm.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sky Pony, via Edelweiss.

Previous books in the Timekeeper series

Timekeeper (Timekeeper, #1) Chainbreaker (Timekeeper, #2)

View all my reviews

Buy links

Amazon | The Book Depository | Wordery

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