6.06.2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

I know I promised a FCF post after I fixed my blog on Friday, but things got hectic and I wasn't able to put the post together (I have got to start doing these things ahead of time). So for those of you who may have been waiting for that, I apologize. There will absolutely be one this Friday. You can count on that.

Also, I went to the Utah Festival of Books on Saturday, and had a fantastic time! Look for that post tomorrow. :)

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: eGalley (courtesy of GalleyGrab)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Publication Date: 7.26.11
Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time…

And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

To say I fell for the hype for this book would not be the truth...because the truth is that I created my own hype for this book, long before I found Karsten's blog and saw how hilariously funny he is, which only added to it. The sad part is that after all my excitement, I didn't like Wildefire. I know, I'm crying too, because that means that what comes next is stuff I hate to type.

It's truth time and if you loved this book, you may not like what I have to say.

Let me start off by saying what I like about Wildefire:
  • The diversity is fantastic. That line in the description that says "group of gods and goddesses" does not lie. They are a group of gods and goddesses from all over the world, meaning that each person in the group is a different ethnicity. I loved it, and wish there was more of this in other books I read. 
  • The conversation flows nicely, is very funny, and sounds like conversation of real teenagers. 
  • The main character, Ash, is not whiny and swoony. She's sarcastic and headstrong, and knows how to handle herself. 
  • Eve, the evil sister. She is my favorite character, and I love what happened every time she showed up to make life interesting. She reminds me (a lot, actually) of Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, post first-human-murder. And I'm not just trying to throw in another Buffy reference there, I really mean that. The way she talks, how she acts, how she seems doomed to be evil; even how she shows up at the most inconvenient times. I'm not sure if it's because Eve reminds me so much of Faith, that I was able to understand her enough for her to be my favorite character, or if I've just got a soft spot for crazies, but I liked her.
  • Cool blue-eyed monsters that *spoiler*-->May or may not be evil<--*End spoiler*

Now for the negatives:
  • First and foremost: not a lot happens until the last five or so chapters. There is so much set-up going on, classes, drinking, school activities, and other stuff that happens besides the main plot, that I was ready to give up on reading halfway through. I did push on though, and had an awesome surprise after a seemingly random conversation became the turning point in the book. It was the last sentence of this conversation that made me say: "oh, dang!" ...and I knew it was about to get really good. And it did. Karsten's plot in that last part of the book was killer!
  • The characters could have all been the same person...with a few exceptions. For most of the book, they have the exact same sense of humor and the same types of jokes and comebacks. Any one of them could speak another's line and I wouldn't know because none of them have enough of their own voice, besides Eve.
  • Teenage girl dating much older and completely random forest ranger who is clingy and shady from the beginning = not a good idea. And that's not a spoiler for the plot...It's just safety 101. 
  • I know there are debates about whether or not this is a valid complaint, but my opinion is firm: Ash is way too violent for my tastes. I don't mind her sarcastic attitude and rough exterior at all. It's quite refreshing not to have a timid and swooning character. But it seems she can't be sarcastic and headstrong and know how to handle herself, without getting physical all the time; she hits people for the smallest reasons, knocks some characters down without a thought, and threatens and even assaults her own friends and boyfriend(s). What person--who wants to keep her friends and boyfriend, at least--does that?

    I get that she's a goddess who could technically be prone to violence. But she rejects another character because she's too violent, yet here she is being violent herself...towards her friends! Not to mention that the other gods and goddesses (including the mighty god of thunder) seem to have a lock on their outbursts of anger. And the fact that she's Polynesian does not at all explain the reason for her angry bursts (as one reviewer tried to claim), so I am left eternally wondering about it.
  • Lastly: There are unrealistic consequences for anything that happens, unless Eve does it. One example: The principal of the school timidly stands by and watches a girl get knocked down by two different people, while mentally wagging a finger and threatening to call the police. One got an arrest warrant afterward, and one only got a week suspension.

Read this if:
...you like diverse characters, are into mythology, and you love quick, witty, banter.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Swearing (including religious names), violence, underage drinking, and talk about sex and drinking.}

P.S. This has nothing to do with what I thought of Wildefire, but I just wanted to mention that the pronunciation of the Goddess Pele's name is wrong in the book.  Pele is pronounced: Peh-Leh (like the e in fell), instead of Pay-lay (like the a in day), as it says in the book. It's a common misconception about the pronunciation of the letter e, especially since it sounds pretty close when it's said quickly (even Wikipedia and other sites have it wrong).
Not a huge deal, but it made me laugh when I saw it spelled out this way in the book.  :)

10 comments:

  1. O fantastic review. I was all gung ho for this one but now I'm not so sure. GREAT review. Very thorough.

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  2. Aw, sorry to hear you were disappointed by this one! Yeah, I don't like it when the characters are violent simply for the sake of being violent/appearing kick-butt etc...sounds a bit gratuitous in this one. Not sure yet if/when I will read Wildefire but good to know these things going into it!

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  3. I'm reading this right now and I'm not far enough into it to have hit any of the snags you mentioned but I'll definitely keep them in mind. Fantastic review, it's so devastating when you really want to like a book and don't, I feel your pain!

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  4. Fantastic review, I've been looking forward to this one so I will try and not get too caught up in the hype surrounding it.

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  5. Interesting review. I like how you handled it. I am unsure how to review a book I don't like, but you did a great job. Thank you.

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  6. I really liked this one, but I didn't love it like other people did. I actually really enjoyed it for the most part, but your complaints? I totally get them. Actually, I agree with them. Especially about Ash being violent. I thought it was ridiculous how she was so down about other people being violent, when she kept reacting the way she did. In general Ash just kind of bugged me. You don't have to be the rude version of snarky in order to not be weak, and it seemed like the author went a bit too far in that direction. Still, though, I did love the diversity and the setting.

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  7. This is a great review. I know how hard it can be to be critical of a book, especially when you are excited about a book and it doesn't meet your expectations. It's too bad, because I'd really love to see some good Polynesian literature. I lived in Hawaii for a time, and they have such a RICH culture.

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  8. OMG! I L O V E the set up of your reviews! Your blog is amazing.

    With that said, this is an amazing review! There is a lot of hype about this bad boy, but its not really pulling me in. Your negatives, in a good way, sort of reinforced these feelings. That is why I loved your review - HONESTY.

    Don't be a stranger; stop by my blog and say hi! I'm not sure if we're fellow followers, but I follow you!

    Looking forward to hearing back from you,
    Cory @ Anti-Drug Reads

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  9. Juju: Thank you!

    Danya: Glad I could help! I hadn't ever experienced that from a book until this one, so it was pretty disappointing.

    Cait: Thanks for commenting! I'll be keeping an eye out for your review; I'm interested in what others think of it. :)

    Jules: Thanks for stopping by!

    Coreena: Thank you! I hoped I had handled it okay...you can never be too sure, so I appreciate your comment. :)

    Ashley: I can see how fun the story and characters are, but I couldn't look past everything else. I'm so glad you are liking it, though! I'll keep an eye out for your review. :)

    Emily: I had no idea you lived in Hawaii! Yes, they definitely have a rich culture. :) Thanks for your comment!

    Cory: Thank you! I'm so glad it helped you. I hate writing negative reviews, but I would feel like fake if I lied. I'm off to visit your blog!

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  10. I just finished the book, and I really liked it. I understand and agree with all of the pros and cons... I finally settled on 18 or 19 for the age of colt but the ending was really surprising and a bit confusing. spoiler --> was colt blink the whole time or did colt somehow die and blink just "replaced" him in a sense? <--- end spoiler.... anyways great review:)

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Thanks for commenting! I read each and every one, and reply as soon as I can :)

Please note: The Reading Fever is an award-free zone. I am very flattered, but comments are all the thanks I need.

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