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.
OPINION: 5 STARS
The Short Version:
Unique in concept and engaging in play out, Wildefire covers a range of emotions and builds a strong plot with fantastic characters. Filled with witty banter and sarcastic retorts, and written in an incredibly fluid, intelligent way, this one is both fun and interesting. Ashline is a phenomenal central character, smoothly built and perfectly damaged to create a well rounded, fully dimensional and relatable protagonist. The plot has a very steady pace, and with easily inserted world building but plenty of mystery, Wildefire rockets out of the gate and doesn’t hold back.
The Extended Version:
Ashline has an incredible internal strength that explodes off the pages from the start and doesn’t relent. Even when she’s unsure about something, Ash never backs down or makes excuses for herself. Her sarcasm is hilarious and she always has a come back for everything, no matter the situation. Even when forced to face some hard truths not only about herself but others, Ashline finds a way to handle it in a way that says so much about her character, while still being understandable and fun for the reader. She is fierce in all the best ways, gentle at just the right moments, and intelligent in the most refreshing of manners.
Apart from Ashline, there are several others characters who play a strong role and have pretty large presences throughout. Eve, Ashline’s older sister, shows up at the most unexpected but perfectly timed moments, and seems to wreak havoc wherever she goes. Knight does a remarkable job showcasing the full nature of the relationship between these two, from the connection of sisterhood to the push and pull of their differing personalities and actions. Despite her violent overtones, Eve has some softer moments, pitching her in a subtly sympathetic light that has a lasting impact. Cole has an intriguing nature from the first time he steps onto the pages, and is suave and smooth while still unsure in all the right ways to make him downright delectable and memorable. Raja is my favorite character of the bunch, as witty and on her toes as Ashline and makes some fantastic character strides. Though she comes across at first as the stereotypical gorgeous snob, she is far from it and Knight weaves this perfectly throughout. Closing out the cast of characters is Rolfe and Ade, two boys who are swoon worthy and completely fun, and Jackie, who fits into things in an interesting way, and is a great friend to Ash.
Though the characters stand out prominently, and have a beautiful kinship between them that plays an integral part in the whole story, the plot also has a lasting effect. With new elements mixing with some polished, known concepts, Wildefire covers the gauntlet from downright creepy to empowering. Intertwining mythologies and giving a very strong contemporary and human component to it, Knight has built something that is unlike anything else. The worldbuilding happens in a very easy way, often coming through quietly without the reader fully realizing it until later. Playing heavily on building mystery while still revealing new information at a steady rate as well, Knight has woven a perfect mystery in a fun and fresh way.
Rounding out this book’s homerun in quality is the writing. Though written in third person, this one puts the reader right into Ashline’s mind throughout and forges a very intense connection from the start. Never once did I find myself drifting out of her head, nor did I notice the third person perspective for the bulk of the story. With gorgeous, noteworthy descriptions and a fantastic grasp on and use of the English language at its finest, Knight not only showcases his storytelling skills but his writing talents as well. The descriptions have a great flow, never coming off as bulky or forced, and create a very firm imagery. Even with this, there is still a very distinct and clear voice that clearly screams Ashline, while still giving intonation to the other characters as well.
Though ending on a killer, jaw dropping cliffhanger, Knight wraps up much of this book’s events while still leaving it in a place where the reader will have no way of predicting what’s coming next. There are plenty of completely unexpected twists and reveals, and the full magnitude of everything laid down in this installment is impressive. The chapter set up also adds an interesting overall element to the book, breaking it not only down by day but into three sections, with an interlude to each that adds a huge level of mystery. The transitions between, however, are very smooth, and tie together by the end of the book. Interesting and fun more than anything, but still harboring plenty of intense moments, and with some very well done action scenes, Wildefire breaks new ground both in concept and play out.
Source: ARC borrowed from friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: July 26, 2011