Publication date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Copy: Arc courtesy of Simon and Schuster
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.
Our co-worker Kiley very kindly agreed to join us again for another guest post, and this time I thought I'd join her with a Double Take. Hope you like the two different perspectives on the same book.
What to say about Wildefire?
I always enjoy a strong female protagonist – many times the YA books I don’t get into are the ones with weak-willed, boy-crazy, damsel-in-distress types. Ashline Wilde is none of those, although she happens to have a little bit of a weakness for the beautiful-but-totally-not-right-for-her boys. Add in some mythological plotlines, and we should have a winner. Right?
Almost. Karsten Knight has something, although I’m not sure what that something is yet – maybe it’s Ashline, or maybe it’s how he’s approached the gods-and-goddesses thing. But the story is a little disjointed and has some gaping holes, in both the plot and characters. A story like this needs depth of character, strong characters to uphold their superpowers, and create strong motives for action – but none of that is there. Characters do things that could make sense – if we had known that character a little (or a lot) better. There’s a great example in the book, but since it’s an ARC I’m going to avoid quotes and spoilers. There are some great twists, but again, they lose their effect because we just don’t have anything beyond the surface. To me it read a little like a rough draft – I’m sure the story and actions of the characters make complete sense to the author, but he forgot to fill us (his readers) in on the details.
I’ll read any following books (but probably won’t rush out to buy them), hoping that maybe we will get the depth of character and story this book is crying out for – I really do want to like this book. For now, give it a try if you’re fans of Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix or Rick Riordan. Katsa and Katniss fans might also appreciate Ashline, but Knight doesn’t quite reach the caliber of their stories. One thumb up with a squinched-up face for Wildefire.
I will admit to agreeing with Kiley in the beginning. I wasn't feeling the characters completely - it felt as if something was missing. Ashline is definitely a strong character, but sometimes her strength just felt like aggression and I'm not altogether fond of aggressive people.
Then I got past the halfway mark and I felt myself becoming engaged with the characters and I was understanding them a little more. Perhaps it was when the reader finds out exactly which gods and goddesses these kids are reincarnations of? I'm not sure exactly, but I found myself remembering some of my classical education and facts that I had thought forgotten were resurfacing in my mind. This seemed to make it easier to connect with the character and their various idiosyncracies. Wildfire is quite a violent story, and Ash's sister Eve is a real nasty character. Don't you just love the play on names tho'? Ash - with fire smoldering inside her - very funny.
One thing that I had right at the end was that 'AHA' moment. What a major twist! Can't tell you what it is as that would be a spoiler, but it suddenly put the whole story in perspecive for me and I am now truly looking forward to the second book to find out where the story is going to go. I haven't spoken to Kiley yet, but I'll be really interested to see if she picked up on the twist. It's a brilliant set-up for book #2, which I'm assuming we'll see sometime in 2012.
Final response from me - slow to start and hard to get into, but well worth hanging on. Enjoy!