Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Dude. No, Seriously. Dude. In case you wonder if I'm one of the "several people" mentioned below in Michelle's review who disliked the level of violence, rest easy. I'm cool enough with that. The GD-bomb being dropped on the first page I wasn't exactly happy about, or with the following profusion of profanity, but that wasn't what burned me on the first 135 pages of Knight's first novel.
In a nutshell, the whole thing up to that point seemed to scream at me, "Trying WAY too hard". Trying too hard to sound like an authentic teen, trying too hard to be "edgy", trying too hard to make the reader empathize with the main character. For the first 135 pages I just kept thinking, "No," and mentally shaking my head. Between the over-compensation and the wealth of passive voice (a personal peeve), I got knocked out of the story more often than I got pulled into it.
And then something changed. Suddenly the writing grew more confident, more comfortable with itself, and the story--which is very cool--began to shine through. Sure, there were still some features that felt contrived, but all in all, once Knight hit his stride, it was all downhill, baby. Easy. And intriguing. And curiouser and curiouser (even if I tagged the villian the second he/she showed . . . assuming the character is the real enemy (oooo!).
I will admit the copy I read was an ARC, an uncorrected proof, so my version may not have been the final say in how the book came out. Perhaps Knight tightens up those first several pages. Perhaps he fixes that confusing time-frame/flashback sequence at the end, and for goodness' sake, let's hope he learns to love a closing comma, because the phrasing suffers without it, but mostly, Wildefire has potential. You'd probably be pretty safe BUYING it, or BORROWING it, either way.
P.S. Gorgeous cover.
I found Karsten Knight's Wildefire a refreshing take on paranormal romance since it deals more with plot and characters than many of the I-loved-you-before-I-even-saw-you books out now.
There were some things I thought the author did well with his debut, and others that were poorly done or that I really didn't like. But the story is compelling, especially since it incorporated gods and mythology from across the globe.
The plot itself—reincarnated gods meeting each other at a private school in the California redwoods—might seem like a rather popular recent middle grade series *cough*Percy Jackson*cough* but this one is completely different in tone and target audience. There is little chance that these two would be mistaken for each other.
The opening sequence is somewhat violent, and though it didn't bother me too much, I've heard from several others who really didn't like it. I saw it as setting up the characters for the rest of the story. The first few chapters are basically back story, there to establish what got Ash to the boarding school, so the subsequent actions seem fitting with the beginning.
I wouldn't say to necessarily let the first chapter dissuade you from reading the rest of the book, but there is (perhaps worse) violence later on, so it's definitely something to consider.
My biggest peeve, however, was that Ash often sounded masculine throughout the book. I'd originally thought she was a jock tomboy from her actions and dialogue, but later she's described as girly and cute, and those two didn't mesh for me.
While I enjoyed most of the book, I really struggled with the climax of the story. It felt a bit overblown, like so much was happening that the characters got lost in the action.
I'm hoping the sequel is better because I love the revelation near the end that one character is actually my favorite god in all of human mythology. There are so many ways to have fun with that character.