By: Karsten Knight
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Buy it at Amazon
Source: ARC borrowed from Cindy @ Books Complete Me
Just kidding, but seriously, that is pretty much all you need to know. I can't actually write this review until I have a paragraph or two to just gush about this one. I have a serious crush on this book; it is one of the best debut novels I have read in quite some time. I am sitting here in awe as I try to find words that are worthy of this book. I have been looking for a series that has an addicting force for me with characters I love and a plot that holds me firmly in its grasp and refuses to let go; Wildefire is the first of that series. I need Karsten to write faster and get the next book into my hands next week. I was so excited about how good this book was that I mentioned it to my 8th grade students and read them some portions of the opening chapter. Even my most reluctant readers were enthralled. They were all frustrated that they would have to wait until July to read this book.
Karsten Knight's writing style is fresh, original, and entertaining. He truly has a way with words. Check out this example to support my claim:
"As she held the pen in her hand and reread for the fifteenth time the chemical equation she was supposed to be balancing, she could feel the reservoir of knowledge frothing somewhere in the back of her brain, but the bridge connecting all of those thoughts to her pen had been brutally obliterated." ~ pg. 85
Karsten wastes no time in getting the plot moving - this book oozes action and drama. Wildefire cast a spell on me that held me firmly in its grasp from word one. I couldn't put it down. Readers are sure to love the wit and snark infused into this tale. Wildefire is what Twilight should have been - addicting and well written.
Okay, now that I have had time to gush about my book crush, it's time to get down to a proper review of it. Wildefire follows Ashline Wilde as she seeks to navigate the turbulent current of high school. On top of the normal high school issues, Ash has to deal with a sister with a lust for violence and an anger deep inside herself that threatens to bubble out of control. The novel opens in a moment of weakness for Ash as she is taking out her frustrations on another girl who has lured Ash's boyfriend into a compromising position. Holy cat fight, Batman! I love seeing Ash take on Lizzie. This was by far one of the best fight scenes I have seen in YA literature. After a tragic accident, Ash moves away from her family in New York and heads west to attend boarding school in Northern California amidst the redwoods. Blackwood Academy soon shows Ash that not everything is what it appears to be as she learns that others with special talents roam the halls.
The characters in Wildefire are so real. I became so attached to many of them that I was sad to let them go when I came to the end. Rolfe was by far one of my favorite characters. I loved his surfer boy attitude and sense of humor. He was the type of guy that I would have been head over heels for in high school. It doesn't hurt that he's also swoon worthy. Ash is also an amazing character. I love novels that have strong female protagonists. Ash also gives a whole new meaning to the term "hot and bothered". I am jealous of her ability to create fire in her palms. Being a volcano goddess sure would come in handy during the cold Pacific Northwest winters.
I also was a bit nervous about reading this one since I knew it had something to do with mythology before I dove into the pages. It seems that mythology is rapidly becoming as prevalent in YA novels as vampires, werewolves, and fallen angels. However, do not let the mythology aspect keep you away from this novel. Karsten Knight has found a way to make mythology all his own and put a unique spin on it. His gods and goddesses are not the true immortals that we are all familiar with - rather they are reincarnated. Also, he combines myths from all over the world rather than sticking to just one region. Wildefire brings to light myths from the Zulu, Norse, Shinto, Egyptian, Polynesian, and Greek traditions. However, the main focus revolves around Ash's Polynesian origins. I don't know much about Polynesian mythology so I loved learning as I read.
I also was super excited that Ash seeks help from her history teacher to better understand which goddess she is and how she has affected mortals in her past lives. Since I am a history teacher, I now have hope that someday, I too can help a student better understand how to adapt to their life as a reincarnated god or goddess. I knew all that hard work in college and all those nonfiction texts I read would have some value someday. And my Dad said you could never do anything worthwhile with a degree in history - hah!
One Last Gripe: I found the interludes to be distracting and confusing at first. I also didn't feel like the issues presented in them were resolved. I am assuming we will get more in future books on the information gleaned from the interludes.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The diversity of cultures and myths
First Sentence: Ashline Wilde was a human mood ring.
Favorite Characters: Rolfe, Ash, Raja
Least Favorite Character: Lily
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.