Author- Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Title- Lies Like Wildfire
Publishing Date-9th Sept 2021
Comment- I was given a free ecopy via Netgalley and @the_writereads by in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced by fear of being burned alive.
The monsters have known each other their whole lives. This is their final summer before college – time to hang out, fall in love and dream about the future.
Until they accidentally start a forest fire which destroys their hometown and leaves death in its wake.
Desperate for the truth to remain hidden, the group make a pact of silence.
But the twisted secret begins to spin out of control and when one of the friends disappears they all become suspects.
We know how it starts but where does it end?
Secrets and lies are everywhere in this compulsive page-turner, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying.
Hannah and her friends are in that special time after school has broken up ad they have the whole summer ahead of them. Nicknamed ‘the Monsters’, the five of them- Hannah, Drummer, Violet, Mo and Luke head to the local lake where they are swimming, drinking and enjoying the red hot temperature that has swept the state.
That is until an accident starts a wildfire that soon spreads out of control.
Desperate to tell the town that an inferno is on the way they speed back to town. Only if they tell who’s fault the fire is, they’ll be charged and prosecuted and bang goes their future.
So they tell a little lie. But as the flames roar out of control, so do the lies. Suddenly they are all in too deep and cracks start to appear in their friendship.
As the fire starts to take lives, one of them will crumble, what will the others do to protect themselves and their future?
First I’d like to talk about the opening line:
“I’m not dressed to find a body.”
What a way to open the story!
Immediately I want to know who is dead, why they are dead, why this person is searching for them and what kind of person thinks about their outfit at a time like this. I was invested from the beginning and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you start a book.
From there things go along at quite a breakneck pace. The first chapter is a small teaser of what happened and then we go back in time to how it all started. Several chapters have this flashforward and it creates a nice reprieve from the non-stop tension of the wildfire.
I wasn’t aware that even accidentally starting a wildfire culminated in criminal charges and huge fines so that as an education for me. What I really enjoyed in this book were the descriptions of the evacuation process and how quickly things escalated.
In fact the beginning of each chapter with it’s statistics of deaths, percentage of fire extinguished etc was tantamount to watching an episode of 24. It was action packed, fast paced and dramatic in the extreme.
Yet, this book could have been a 5 out of 5 for me, if it weren’t for how truly unlikeable each of the 5 main characters were. I understand that they were meant to be teenagers and unpopular ones at that. But I didn’t find that they had many redeeming features at all and I couldn’t see how they had remained friends for so long.
Mo was hardly mentioned and didn’t have a distinct personality to me, in fact I’m hard pressed to remember her at all. Luke was the stereotypical boy from the wrong side of town who smokes and drinks and gets into trouble. Violet was the rich girl who spends her summer with her old friends in a very ‘slumming it princess’ kind of way.
Then there’s Hannah and Drummer. The toxic co-dependant relationship between the two of them was at the core of the book and made for some truly unpleasant scenes. Ignoring Hannah’s obsessive stalking and proprietary behaviour and Drummer’s narcissistic exploitation of her feelings; Hannah’s retaliatory ‘deflowering’ was truly one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve read in a while.
I was hard pressed to care about their welfare but was desperate to see the consequences of their actions and how they would end up.
Despite my dislike for Hannah, I think the way her character was revealed as time went on was brilliant. You start off thinking that she is the good guy and end up with a whole different opinion. That character arc managed to justify the unpleasantness of the other characters and allowed for me to enjoy the book.
Atmospheric and blood-pumping, it was a ride and a half and I was glued to the action, carried along by the flames and the lies.
If you like Karen McManus, Patrick Ness or Joe Hill I would highly recommend this book for you.