THE AUGUST 5 by Jenna Helland


Age Range: 12 - 15
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The daughter of a rebel leader and the son of a powerful feudal politician evaluate their potential roles in a revolution.

Aeren’s governance is based on a feudalistic caste structure in which privileged, land-owning Zunft largely exploit the working-class cottagers. The novel opens as Tamsin Henry follows her father’s command to set a dockside warehouse on fire, part of his planned Aug. 5 revolution. In the process she’s injured, and when Tommy, the son of a high-ranking politician, finds her unconscious in the woods, he rescues her, exposing his cottager sympathies. Soon the initial revolution fails, and the leaders, including Tamsin’s father, are held in jail as civil unrest continues to grow. When Tamsin is sent to recuperate in the capital city, where Tommy attends boarding school, she exposes him to the truth of his father’s cruelty. But both Tamsin and Tommy spend too much time dealing with fairly uninteresting daddy-angst, making their eventual transformations into revolutionary leaders implausible. The underdeveloped character voices also sap the chemistry from both a flat romance between Tamsin and a reporter and Tommy’s bland friendship with some fellow students. The early-industrial setting—newspapers are printed with presses, and no modern means of communication exist—includes a few steampunk flourishes that add little to the worldbuilding.

A story about a revolution should be exciting—this one is not. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-374-38264-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2015


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