Champions: at fire’s end

Author: Charlotte Jain
Publisher: CreateSpace
Star Rating: 2.75 – 3/5
Date Read: September 3rd to 7th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to the author for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

First things first, the cover pictured above is a draft cover and has since been updated. Being a draft copy of an indie author, I slugged through quite a bit of poor spelling and grammar to get to what lay underneath. This is to be expected and I can only assume that since there is a finished copy, all those little things will be cleared up. I tried hard not to dwell on it too much but I’m a bit of a stickler for things like that!

So what’s it about? Champions: at fire’s end is the first book in a series following 17 year old best friends April and Kyle who live in the fictional town of Caria. They go to their local high school, Kyle swims on the swim team, they seem like average teenagers. But they’re not. They have been chosen to settle the score for two immortal factions who had been at war for eternity. Bestowed with control over fire and water, April and Kyle must seek out the remaining two champions for the ultimate battle. And the immortals are getting restless. The fight is on.

I’ve had a lot of trouble deciding my star rating for this book. By the end I was pretty hooked on it. But there were moments getting there where I had massive ‘what on Earth is going on?’ moments. There were times when I just could not follow the story and had to jump back a page or a chapter to double check what was going on. The writing was jerky and jolted me as a reader from one place to another with little to no explanation and it didn’t flow well. One second we’re here, the next we’re there and then somewhere else again when I’m still trying to work out when we left the first place. This makes for a frustrating reading experience as you can imagine!

I really cared about the two main characters, April and Kyle, but I couldn’t muster up any feeling at all for Noah or Kim. I thought it was unrealistic that they could come into their abilities so quickly without the years of training that April and Kyle had, and I also don’t understand why April and Kyle were given guides and Noah and Kim weren’t – this was never explained. I did however enjoy the fight scenes and also April and Kyle’s friendship throughout the book. I thought the change in him didn’t fit the way he came across at the end of the book so I’m wondering if not all is as it seems there. I don’t particularly want them to get together but I do want to see their friendship healed and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to get around the circumstances. I still believe in their friendship even if I turn out to be completely wrong! However, I was increasingly frustrated with the inconstant changes in first person POV. Without labels on the chapters to indicate who is speaking, I had no idea I was even in for a dual first person POV and had to wait until the person speaking mentioned the other’s name before I knew who was, and as the POV alternated randomly and not just with every second chapter I didn’t even know who to expect. There were also times the POV was changed during the chapter, while I don’t think this was deliberate it was very annoying to read and I hope that’s something that got fixed up in the editing stages. (EDIT: It did.)

A character of whose purpose I’m not sure of is Yuuya. I assume he has something to do with when April spent time in Japan but I didn’t see his relevance to the story at hand. He just randomly showed up and they would hang out and of course his true identity was revealed, but I still don’t know his role in the story. If this is an introduction for further books then that’s fine, but it just feels like it wasn’t done very well. I also don’t understand the reference to a character named Charlotte because I don’t understand who or what she is, or why the author would add a character with their own name? Is the author a character in this story? I’ve seen that done in the I Am Number Four series and honestly I don’t really like it. But no further explanation was given save for a cryptic mention in the epilogue.  (EDIT: It seems that in the draft copy I read, the name Charlotte was a placekeeper for a character who would become Claire in finished copies. That clears that up! But we still don’t know who she is…)

By the time I reached the end I was racing through this novel, quite hung up on the story and enjoying the action scenes. I had even somewhat adjusted to Jain’s way of writing and had less ‘wtf’ moments as I carried on. But it’s not the best book I ever read. It’s also not the worst. I’ve read worse books with no spelling or grammar errors. I’ve read better, too, of course. I just felt a bit unsatisfied but I guess that is supposed to drive me to buy a copy of book 2? I’m pretty curious about where it goes from here so that is a definite possibility. So I will give this book a working rating of 2.75 – 3 stars noting that I am probably being slightly generous but optimistic as to where the story heads from here.

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