3 out of 4 stars
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I am Maji, a teenage girl from the Water clan. I am in exile with my beloved Amoto of the Fire clan. You see, we had to leave our beautiful land, Wirrawa, because the elders wanted to separate us. Interclan marriage is not allowed by our sacred laws; that offense deserves death. Our childhood friend, Kiwanja from the Rock clan, was ordered to take us back to be punished. He found us at our first camp, but we escaped while he was sleeping.
Will Amoto and I survive in this dreary place? Will our love be enough to sustain us? Will the evil Griblins punish Wirrawa and the three clans for our disobedience?
Such is the premise of Fire and Water written by Jo Eshuys and illustrated by Craig Jackson. After reading the book’s Amazon page, I learned that it is based on a true story. This tidbit made the book more meaningful and memorable for me. While love has seemingly become a cheap commodity these days, Amoto and Maji risk life and limb to fight for their precious love. Teeming with touching declarations of love, this book is a must-read for us hopeless (and hopeful) romantics! And that evocative ending, particularly the last line, is one that will be remembered for a long time.
Aside from the heart flutters, what else can the reader get? Trust me! This book is a treasure trove. The illustrations are mesmerizing; the wonderful pictures (one on every page) make the world-building and the character descriptions effortless. I am certainly no art connoisseur, but those pictures had me spellbound with their exquisite colors, fascinating details, realistic facial expressions, and subtle humor. They spoke “a thousand words,” indeed!
Another jewel in the book is the poetry. Many of the characters, even the land of Wirrawa, have a chance to speak in verse. Almost all pages have poems; some are as short as three lines while others have several stanzas, but all are captivating. There are rhymes, and there are free-verse pieces. Many are unique; these include debates in verse, an acrostic, one with anagrams that the reader has to solve, a Mobius strip poem, and two haikus. Eshuys and Jackson really worked hard to give the reader an unforgettable experience.
While I gush about the illustrations and the poems, I’m afraid the book has its share of flaws. Different characters’ dialogues are many times in the same paragraph. There are erroneous punctuation marks, too. One poem is not too clear; two pictures may need tweaking to avoid inconsistencies. I wish these pesky issues could be addressed immediately, so the book can truly be outstanding. For now, the story definitely deserves 3 out of 4 stars.
I recommend Amoto and Maji’s love story even for teenage readers; there is nothing to censor in there. Fans of poetry will delight in the verses. Art lovers will be wowed by the pictures. Sentimental readers like me may need to prepare a box of tissues to cope with the mushy lines. Try this one for size: “Alone we are nothing; together we give the dark universe purpose.”
Fire and Water
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