Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

Phoenix RisingPhoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce
Release Date: 1st June 2015
Publisher: Stripes
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Sail. Salvage. Survive. Toby’s father is a wanted man. For as long as Toby can remember, they’ve been on the run. The Phoenix has become their home, their backyard the junk-filled seas surrounding it. The crew of the Banshee lives for hunting down the Phoenix and now they’re closing in. Ayla has spent her whole life fighting – preparing for the moment when the Banshee will face its ultimate enemy. But Toby doesn’t want to run any more and Ayla is his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance? The future is in their hands.


We’re introduced to Phoenix Rising with snippets of newspaper articles and clippings which tell us about the demise of the world as we know it. With blackouts, riots and wars breaking out over oil the future is looking bleak. It’s then we climb aboard the Phoenix ship and meet Toby.
After living almost his whole life aboard the ship, Toby is desperate for adventure; however he gets more adventure than he bargained for when the Banshee, a rival pirate ship, targets the Phoenix. Then when Toby meets Banshee crew member, Ayla, things looks set to take an even scarier turn…

Whilst I read my fair share of young adult, this is probably the first dystopian novel I’ve ever read (I know!) However, the storyline really appealed to me and I loved the idea of the Banshee Crew vs Phoenix Crew. Any worries that I had about getting into Phoenix Rising were quickly dismissed, as I was completely enthralled by the world that Bryony Pearce had created right from the off.
Having the newspaper clippings at the start was a brilliant idea, it really helped you to get a clear picture of the mess that the world was in when we first join the crew on the Phoenix. There’s no doubting the utter destruction that the world is experiencing, and Bryony’s writing builds tensions quickly and effectively. As I was recruited as part of the ‘#BansheeCrew’ by Stripes Publishing, I was really looking forward to getting to know the group better, however I quickly learnt that the narrative was told entirely from Toby’s perspective, therefore we only get to experience life in the Phoenix Crew first hand. I don’t have any qualms with this; it was great and I quickly bonded with Toby (Although I kind of wished I was in the #PhoenixCrew at the start…Shh! Don’t tell anyone!) This was purely because the Banshee Crew were made out to be the ‘baddies’ as we are only seeing things from Toby’s perspective.  I would have loved the narrative to have alternated between Toby and Ayla, as she was a dream character for me- feisty, brave and unafraid of anything. Still, as I mentioned earlier, Toby was a brilliant central character and you can’t help but sympathise with his situation. Toby is desperate to no longer be seen as the ‘boy’ of the Phoenix and you can feel his frustration – imagine never being allowed to set foot off your ship? There are no other people his age aboard the Phoenix (at least until we meet Hiko) and his only real companion is Polly the Parrot who is constantly trying to keep him out of trouble. Whilst there are quite a lot of characters to the story, some are more memorable than others, and those that do stick in your mind are well drawn and hugely exciting to read about.

The story moves at a fast and exciting pace, constantly leaving you wanting to read just that little bit more to find out what’s going to happen next. There are plenty of those ‘reading through your fingers’ moments; y’know the ones…where things are so tense you can’t bear to look/read/breathe.

Whilst this novel is different from my usual type of reading I absolutely loved it. If you ever told me I’d enjoy a book about post apocalypse earth, pirates and a talking parrot I may not have believed you, but trust me – there is so much more to this book than that. Yes, it examines the future (or not as the case may be…) of the earth, and what it shows us is actually quite scary, but it’s as much about friendships, family, loyalty and trust as it is anything else.

Packed full of drama and adventure, I think this is a book that would pretty much appeal to a wide spectrum of readers, perhaps focusing on younger teenagers but it’s certainly a story that can be enjoyed by anyone. An exciting page-turner of a novel and the ending surely signals that there is to be a follow-up novel. (Please, please, please!)

If you’re on the lookout for adventure and fancy losing yourself to a rather dark, scary but thrilling world for a few hours then THIS is your read!

A huge thank you to Stripes Publishing for sending me a review copy of Phoenix Rising.  


Bryony Pearce: author of Angel's FuryBryony Pearce (formerly McCarthy) lives with her husband and two children in a village on the edge of the Peak District. She completed an English Literature degree at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1998 and afterward worked in the business-to-business market research sector. She went freelance in 2004 so she could devote more time to writing. Bryony was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition with her MG novel Windrunner’s Daughter.

 Bryony Pearce   | Website  | Twitter  | Goodreads  |


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