Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2011)
Format: Hardcover | 400 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Description (Goodreads): "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."
WARNING: Contains SPOILERS!
When I read the words "Polynesian volcano goddess" I thought this book was going to be just awesome. I mean: Polynesian. Volcano. Goddess. How cool is that? Although ancient mythology seems to be all the rage among YA authors (right along with dystopias)right now, the more commonly explored myths are of European origin (mainly Greek). So if there was a book out there that explored less known pantheons I decided I should read it. Because, you know, I was expecting it to be a bit more original.
Well, I still think that a book with a Polynesian volcano goddess (are you counting how many times I write this?) is great but I can also say that this particular book was a disappointment. It's about 400 pages long and not much happens. So, basically while it had a lot of potential (Polynesian... etc) the execution could have been a lot better.
Ashline Wilde is running away. From a traumatizing event and from her murderous older sister. Formerly a New York resident, she fled to the other side of the country and enrolled at Blackwood Academy where she plans to start anew and try to forget her tragic past.
When one night she hears a scream and heads out to the rescue she discovers that only a select number of people have heard it too. What does it all mean? What connects these five Blackwood students that seem to be able to hear what no-one else does? And what are the strange, dark creatures that roam the woods near the school.
So. "Wildefire". My first complaint comes right with the opening scene of the book where Ashline punches another girl (hard, too) because the girl 'stole' her boyfriend. I thought the scene was distasteful and unnecessary. There were other ways to introduce Eve (Ashline's sister) to the picture (because that is why all the drama at the beginning happens).
"Wildefire" starts slowly, really slowly. It's only well past the 100 page mark that anything remotely supernatural (except for that scene in the beginning of the book, with Eve) happens. Even when the action picks up not much of relevance happens in the entire book.
This is what annoyed me the most about "Wildefire". Ashline discovers that there are gods in her school and that she might just be one of them and after that big piece of news everything remains the same. There is no disbelief, no tries to rationalize the events. Only a passive acceptance about the whole thing and then life as usual. Ashline doesn't seem remotely interested about her origins, about what she is or what her sister might be. She doesn't do research and doesn't hold meetings with the other gods and goddesses to try to find out more. Everyone just shrugs and life goes on. No-one seems to care about the mysterious scrolls they receive or the approaching "Ragnarok".
So basically the author had this great idea... gods and goddesses suddenly finding out their true identities, but then he forgot to follow up on it, preferring to concentrate on the woes of being a teenager. These young deities have detentions, flirt with each other and attend mandatory sport events. And... that is basically it. Oh there are those weird creatures prancing around but no-one cares. "Oh yeah, they're "the Cloak" and they're evil? Oh good, now let's go to lunch."
Character-wise, everyone was pretty typical... and oh so teenage-y. From Raja the apparently 'bitchy' upper-class girl to Rolfe the surfer boy. Ashline did have her moments of awesomeness but that too was ruined by the gratuitous violence and the weird moods. Also I kind of didn't understand why she'd fall for Colt, really.
Eve was there just to be the psychotic "bad guy (girl)" and provide the heroes with an enemy to fight.
There were two scenes near the end that restored a bit of faith in the author but overall? This book would be awesome if the focus had been the whole "hey-you're-gods-and-goddesses-and-you-have-to-save-the-world" thing instead of "cool-we're-deities-let's-party-and-continue-to-be-regular-and-boring-teens".
I felt like the author got sidetracked and put the supernatural part of the story on hold way too long. It ended up being a regular teen book about the life of teens in a private boarding school. Then, near the end, Knight wakes up and all the "supernatural action" happens in a rushed and unrealistic way. There were too many threads left hanging, too many things left unexplained and the character evolution left a lot to be desired.