Author: Karsten Knight
Publisher: S&S Books for Young Readers
Published: July 26, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Source: S&S Galley Grab
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. J
ust 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.
Ashline lives in a modern-day stepford that's as cookie-cutter as it gets, and it's an understatement to say she stands out. Her sister, Eve, has a reputation for violence, and she's fast earning a reputation of her own, but she never meant for the events of that night to happen. What's meant to be a fresh new start at Blackwood Academy becomes the start of a brand new life for Asheline, and it's one she could never have imagined. With power beyond her imagination, others just like her and the threat of war looming over their heads, Ash has to learn to come to terms with her gifts and accept her fate or lose herself forever.
Wildefire has its work cut out for it, entering a world of paranormal fiction that ranges from series of vampires, reincarnations of Greek gods, werewolves and more. So, it should be no surprise when I say it has big shoes to fill if it wants to become another power player in YA fiction. I can wholeheartedly say that Wildefire was refreshing, fun and completely addicting. Author Karsten Knight has written one heck of a debut with a full-force plot that grips you from the start and refuses to let go even in the final pages of the book. Featuring a plot like a runaway train that builds momentum and ferocity as it goes, Wildefire is the perfect blend of action and imagery that makes for a powerful and intriguing story.
I find that in YA fiction, there's a delicate line that can't be crossed between character and plot development, and this is a line which Wildefire toes at times but manages to balance throughout. Ash and her older sister Eve set the pace for a whirlwind of violence and intrigue from the first chapter, but the addition of the secondary characters from Blackwood like Jackie, Darren, Raja, Serena, Ade and Rolfe enriched the backstory and fueled the plot. Despite seeming like an overwhelming number of important characters to remember, Wildefire manages to make each character have a significant and potent impact, whether it be good or bad. I'll admit that, at times, I felt Ash's thought processes were tedious - for example, one moment she'd seem confident that nothing would phase her, and the next she was as nervous as the others - but, for the most part, she felt genuine. She was snarky, and funny and endearing in the sense that she wasn't your ordinary bad girl or good girl. She was just real. (And can I just say how much I loved the prominence of strong, fabulous and empowering female characters?!) Wildefire does feature violence that was difficult to stomach, but the language, balance between action and lulls and poetic imagery really made for a strong, well-rounded and riveting story.
All in all, I really enjoyed Wildefire, and I can honestly say that I've read a lot of paranormal stories, but this one raised the bar. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I'm dying for book two. Seriously, I want it right now. I highly recommend it to all fans of YA fiction, especially those who enjoy paranormal stories, mythology and strong female protagonists.
I received this eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.