Title: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1)
Author: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons
ARC provided by HarperTeen through a giveaway.
Set Fire to the Gods can easily be described as Spartucus meets Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which gladiators fight to the death using elemental magic to settle skirmishes between the gods. And yes, it’s just as awesome as it sounds.
The worldbuilding is what really drew me into the story. Set Fire to the Gods is set in a Greco-Roman inspired world in which humans are either divine–possessing elemental magic–or undivine. All mortals are descended from the six gods and the type of magic you possess is dependent which god is your ancestor.
The story is told through alternating POVs of the two main character, Ash and Madoc. I found both their characters to be well-developed and I enjoyed reading from both their perspectives. Madoc is undivine and engages in street fights with his brother to help support their family. Ash is a fire dancer and the daughter of one of the best gladiators for the fire god, Ignitus. They each have their own struggles and agendas throughout the book and it was satisfying to watch them grow, both on their own and together.
I really wish there had been more gladiator fighting scenes, because they were excellently written! They were full of heart-pounding action and suspense. The book had a few fight scenes but I would have loved to read more of Ash and Madoc fighting in the arena. As far as the pacing, it started out strong but began to loose a lot of steam as the story went on. It lost the momentum it had built in the beginning.
Set Fire to the Gods satiated my appetite for anything gladiator. I keep hoping and wishing this particular aspect of fiction will make its way into YA books, so I was really happy when this book was announced. Expect action-packed gladiator fights, elemental magic, and excellent worldbuilding in this YA fantasy!