ARC REVIEW: Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski

I read Song of the Fireflies over a month ago and in that time I’ve re-read parts of it more than once just so I could review it properly. Overall, I’d say it was a solid 3 stars, maybe even 4 stars at parts because of how the MCs gave me a serious case of the the feels. At points, I wanted to smack them upside their heads and at other points I wanted to hug them tight.  My feels aside, I was very conflicted overall with the MCs journey to HEA.  Because I’m attempting to review SOTF without spoilers, my review might seem somewhat rambling if you’ve not yet read the book yourself.Ever since reading Edge of Never, I’ve been a fan of J.A. Redmerski.  I like her voice and writing usually. Unlike many in the New Adult genre, I find her stories and characters to be well-developed with good twists and turns along the way. To say I was excited when my NetGalley request was approved, long before the book’s official release date, (February 4, 2014) was an understatement.  We met Elias and Bray in Edge of Always and I was immediately intrigued as to how the two stories would intersect.  They didn’t really intersect in any major way except that one incident we read in EOA. That was a bit of a disappointment, but not my biggest issue here.  Let me take a few steps back…

I was pulled in immediately by the sweet innocence of Elias and Brayelle as kids and learning the history behind their love story from the beginning. In the first 15% of the book, the story jumps in time from Bray and Elias as young kids (8-9 year olds) to them as early 20-somethings then there’s a 4-5 year estrangement and we pick up again to them in their mid-late 20s for the rest of the book. It was a lot of info to digest in a very short time.

Elias was so taken with Bray that even as a 9 year old boy, he hands over the reigns to Bray to lead the way throughout their story. To his detriment, Elias loves Bray no matter what. On some level, I could get on board with that — everyone needs unconditional love in their life, especially Bray, considering her own family have given up on her quite early on. The author puts it out there that Bray was diagnosed with BPD as a teen to explain her actions and then we are left to assume that this is the reason for her family’s estrangement but there wasn’t much, if any, actual evidence of what made them act this way.

As you can guess, SOTF is not a sweet, syrupy romance about two perfect MCs. There’s lots of raw emotion here with very flawed characters. Elias and Bray do a lot that many will find objectionable… among their bad decisions is excessive partying, drug use, and somewhat graphic sex along the way. This book won’t be everyone’s cuppa because of that alone. I didn’t have a serious problem with this part of their story because young people running away from something are bound to do any number of things that are objectionable in some way.  That’s just realistic, no matter if I don’t like to read it.

SOTF is a dual POV story, which I don’t always like but felt was very necessary here. You need to be in both these characters’ heads to understand them and try to make sense of their story. It’s still difficult to make sense of it all, mind you, but it was more helpful with the dual POV than it would have been without it.  Both Bray and Elias made it very hard to connect and like them completely. Ms. Redmerski shows us a lot of bad about Bray; how broken and flawed she is, but not much good. Bray is very headstrong, in addition she’s selfish and manipulative as all get out. Bray knows she has serious issues she needs to sort, but it seems like she has no desire to work out her mess, preferring to continuing to run away from her issues indefinitely.

I felt at points even though she was telling Elias to let her be, she knew he wouldn’t give up on her and would do what she wanted in the end. For that reason, I had trouble believing why Elias was SO in love with her.  I kept thinking maybe he just felt bad for her because 1) they had been in each other’s lives for so long and 2) she had no one else except him who loved and accepted her as she was.  Even knowing Bray’s history, for much of SOTF I wanted Elias to man up and either give Bray an ultimatum to sort her shit or at the very least refuse to join Bray on her downward spiral of bad decisions.

The latter 30-40% of SOTF is what saved this book for me. We finally get some explanations and there’s a decent twist (you’ll know what I’m talking about if/when you read it) that I didn’t see coming and a nice, sweet ending for everyone involved, which I appreciated.  The ending was almost too sweet considering the journey Elias and Bray had traveled. Then again, I don’t think I could have dealt with vague HFN ending or a cliffhanger (awaiting a sequel). Either of those would have probably made me throw my e-reader and stomp on it in frustration.

*ARC provided by Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Kindle

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