review: wildefire by karsten knight

Author: Karsten Knight
Publication Date: 07/26/2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 400
Source: e-ARC

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.  (goodreads)

Ashline Wilde has grown up with her sister Eve, both as adopted children of the Wilde family in Scarsdale, New York. While Scarsdale might not mean much to a lot of people, it speaks volumes as to the setting that Ash grew up in. Westchester* County is the northern suburb of New York City, and a fairly wealthy area in and of itself, but Scarsdale (10583!) is almost exaggeratedly so with not an incredible amount of diversity. For Ash - and Eve - to have been surrounded by a mainly static background leaves not a lot of room for them to explore their heritage. So when Ash confronts a different girl for hooking up with her boyfriend and is eventually countered with the following statement, you might see where her anger stems from:
"Ooh, right," Lizzie said. "You're just some crazy bush child that your parents came home from vacation with."
A fight ensues and Eve arrives - much to Ash's surprise - to bring Ash home, but that's only the beginning. Surprising things happen and Ash find herself starting over at a prep school, Blackwood Academy, located in gorgeous northern California amidst the very much present redwoods. And then the real adventure begins.

What a fun book! I read this in multiple sittings, but if life had permitted me to do it in one I would have. I loved Ash. On Twitter I told Karsten that I thought she was a consistent and intelligent badass and I stand by that statement. Why is consistency important? Well, I'm not overly a fan of characters - female or otherwise - that waver back and forth on a position, or change their mind because someone said it was a better idea to do it a different way. Ash as a character was always strong, willful, but thoughtful. (And her parents, who we see at the beginning are lovely and very much present. This is a huge bonus.) She is snarky, but not in a way that puts you off and feels overbearing. I feel like she would get on well with Rose Hathaway.

And not only is Ash great, but the secondary characters (although they're not really so secondary) are well-rounded and personable and fit perfectly into the overall storyline, which is... mythology! While there's been a lot of YA that discussed mythology lately, Wildefire has a completely different spin on it that's refreshing and original and mixes them all up and stand them on their heads. Many a time while I was reading was I surprised by what happened, and I was always wanting to know more - in a good way!

Wildefire is the first in a planned trilogy, with the next two books coming out in 2012 and 2013 respectively. And there's a lot more that occurs in the first book but it would give everything away and I'll leave the "oh!" moments to you guys to discover. Also, if you haven't checked out Karsten's vlogs at his website you should do so. They're hilarious.

*I'm from Westchester.

This ARC was received from Simon & Schuster via Galley Grab in exchange for an honest review.

6 comments on "review: wildefire by karsten knight"

We Heart YA wrote: Wed Aug 03, 09:56:00 PM

Hm, we've seen a lot of mixed reviews on this, so we were definitely curious to see what you thought. Glad you enjoyed it! Karsten seems like a really nice guy. :)

Jenny wrote: Wed Aug 03, 10:46:00 PM

I've heard both bad and good things about this one so it's definitely going to be a library book but I hope I like it.

kaye (paper reader) wrote: Wed Aug 03, 10:49:00 PM

@We Heart YA & Jenny: I've read a lot of reviews where they mention violence and perhaps Ash being angry and overly reactive, but I personally didn't find that to be the case at all. If anything, these were teens being teens - and teens swear and bicker and have crazy adventures.

I admit, the book was missing that one special thing that would bring it from like to love for me, but it's definitely worth a read. :)

Anonymous wrote: Wed Aug 03, 11:42:00 PM

I just started this book and I'm really enjoying it! Thanks for the review!

Leanna Elle wrote: Thu Aug 04, 08:14:00 AM

I've seen mixed reviews on this one too. It certainly sounds a lot different from my usual YA reading. Thanks for the great review! :)

Christy @ TheReaderBee wrote: Thu Aug 04, 07:45:00 PM

Glad you enjoyed this! I had a few issues with it, but overall thought it was a good read. I'm looking forward to the next book. :) Great review!

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