Author: Karsten Knight
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Wildefire (Book 1)
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 393 Pages
ISBN-10: 1442421177 (Simon Pulse)
ISBN-13: 978-1442421172 (Simon Pulse)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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.
Quick & Dirty: A strong cast of characters and witty banter helps the unique mythos behind Wildefire carry the novel where the plot fails to satisfy.
Opening Sentence: Ashline Wilde was a human mood ring.
Ashline Wilde and her sister Eve are reincarnations of an ancient Polynesian goddesses. Like we see a lot in mythology, when gods are happy the world keeps turning, and when they’re not? Someone’s about to bite it. With a violent opening, Wildefire grabs the reader from the get-go. Knight uses the gods and goddesses inherently violent natures to pack in a lot of action. It’s got a X-Men feel to it, with a large and variable cast of characters. The big question of Wildefire is: Why are gods and goddesses from literally any and every culture in history getting pulled into the Nowhere, America?
Wildefire’s gigantic cast of deities means we have a lot of ethnic integration going on, which I loved. On the other side of that coin, Stephen King’s ‘Magical Negro’ theory plays itself out. In a few cases I think Knight was worried about stereotypes and tried to do the opposite, resulting in some two-dimensional paragons in lieu of real characters. All the gods get their own backstory, but in the end that just makes it hard to get a feel for the reincarnations we’re currently reading. They all accept their fates a little too quickly in my opinion, but I attribute this to Knight’s careful pacing of the novel.
Then I come to Ashline and Eve. Ashline is not a sympathetic heroine. Frankly, there are other characters in the story I would’ve enjoyed reading more of, but I hope Ashline gets fleshed out in the next installments. She’s a strong heroine, for the most part. The only reason I don’t qualify her as a total bada$$ is because of a fight she gets into at school over a guy in the very first chapter. Talk about an overreaction. All the characters just seem to accept how unrestrainably violent they’ve become as they try to control their powers. The fact no one cared began to seriously annoy me. Eve, Ashline’s older sister, is a sociopath. Knight needed a villain, but didn’t bother to really flesh her out beyond the stereotype. Her psychotic behavior overwhelmed just about everything Knight tried to do with her character. She’s selfish and destructive, fixated completely on Ashline. There’s really nothing to her character beyond that, which diminished her overall evil-factor immensely.
Knight gave his characters some great chemistry, their witty banter is definitely one of the reasons I kept on reading. They actually care about each other, and their relationships evolve logically throughout the novel. The unique mythos behind Wildefire also brought the story to another level. While I didn’t buy into the plot — a lot of which goes towards explaining the mythos — the book had a lot of strong points that kept me reading. If you liked The Goddess Test by Aimeé Carter, you’ll love Wildefire.
“Okay,” Ash said, and the six beachgoers clumped together once more. “But don’t be surprised when you don’t find what you’re looking for.”
“We’ll see,” Serena said with a knowing, ironic half-smile. Her hand darted out with violent certainty and fastened itself around Ashline’s wrist.
She plummeted headlong into limbo once again.
3. Afterglow (November 12, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Wildefire. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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