Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: 'Glowing Dim as an Ember' by Iyana Jenna


Is it better to have no hope for at all the future than it is to entertain false hope? Lowered expectations can be depressing, but Etienne has learned the hard way what happens when manufactured emotions deflate.
After years of neglect and malnutrition Etienne is almost ready to give up on life. No matter how hard he works he never seems to get ahead. I was drawn to his quiet, worn out spirit immediately, especially when a series of mysterious events stir up his last flicker of hope. At fourteen Etienne is old enough to know how the world really works now, and I was torn between cheering him on and wincing at the thought of him being disappointed by the cruelty of others yet again. Within a few short paragraphs I felt as if I’d known this character for his entire life and could predict exactly how he’d react to almost any outcome. It takes skill to develop a well-rounded narrator this rapidly, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Ms. Jenna’s work in the future.
This story packed an incredible amount of background information into a small number of scenes. Seven pages simply wasn’t enough space to fully cover all of the subplots that Ms. Jenna includes. Expanding it into a novella would have allowed more time to explore the character’s backgrounds as well as the the emotional ramifications of Etienne’s discovery. All of the subplots the author introduces are fascinating, and even though I thought the introductions of them were rushed I completely understand why she felt the need to mention them. The plot is richer and far more interesting because of this decision, but I wish I would have been given more time to absorb all of the surprises she packed into it.
The age recommendation for this piece is somewhat flexible. There is nothing inappropriate here for the 12+ age group, but it will probably resonate more with older students who are more likely to have processed bittersweet experiences in their own lives. I definitely would not recommend it for anyone under 12, though, due to the detailed descriptions of a certain character’s troubled past.
I’ve been mulling over the fate of every single person in Glowing Dim as an Ember since I finished reading it. This is a good choice for anyone who likes character-driven stories that are full of rapidly shifting plot twists.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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