Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 26th, 2011
Genre: Young-Adult, Mythology
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.
In order for a book to gain 5 stars from me it has to be pretty special. I ask for a lot.
First, I need a good balance of plot, setting, and characters and I need to feel like everything is well-developed. That is not to say I would never give a character-driven novel 5 stars, it’s just more likely to happen for me if everything is balanced out and I can really place myself in the setting. The characters have to feel real, and I have to really believe the plot could happen. Even if it’s a fairytale, a super-talented author will have the ability to make that plot stick and feel like the reader is in the action right alongside the characters.
Second, I need to feel emotion for the characters. I need to like them, hate them, want to cry with them, etc. I’m a female. We are emotional creatures, some of us more than most. I need to have a reaction, I need to care and feel connected.
Thirdly, A book has to be memorable. This is probably the most important one for me. If I can’t look back at the books I read 6 months down the road and not remember how much I liked it and why, if I can’t remember where it took place, or if I can’t remember the main character’s name, then we have a problem. Now I realize that it hasn’t been 6 months since I have read this book, but I have a tendency to know which books are going to stick out in my mind and stay with me for awhile.
There are other things that are important too. Sometimes I can fall in love with a book because of the gorgeous writing and the flow of the descriptive passages. Sometimes the voice of the characters is what does it for me. It really just depends. But I am happy to say, that there wasn’t a damn thing I didn’t enjoy about this book. For me, all those elements I described, they were there. I loved the characters. All of them felt very real, and they all felt very balanced and well thought out to me. The descriptive passages were exactly what I look for in a book. I really hate when I can’t picture the setting where something I am reading takes place. That didn’t happen here. The pacing was pretty much spot on, although if I have one complaint, I wish there had been a little more action. But whatever. It’s a series. I can live with waiting for it to continue in the next book.
I was fascinated by the mythology of the story and oh lord that ending did me in. I usually hate cliffhangers. It’s been a while since I can think of a cliffhanger I enjoyed. I usually get really annoyed when I feel like the story has no resolution and sometimes I feel like it’s a really cheap plot device the author uses to get the reader to buy the next book. But surprisingly, I really enjoyed this cliffhanger! It was a total WTF moment and I found myself laughing out loud. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but I can tell you that I will be one of the first people in line to find out.
This book is probably a definite re-read for me. And also, because I read an ARC, I will be purchasing a copy. This is just one of those books that I really have to own. It is just a stand-out novel. And I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Sidenote: Everyone loves the cover. I don’t. I don’t get it. I think it’s boring. The cover of this novel is not what drew me in. It was the buzz and hype surrounding it. And for me, it lived up to the hype. Other books this year so far haven’t. So for that I am glad.