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Wildefire by Karsten Knight

by Karsten Kinght

YA Fantasy

Content Rating: PG-13

Spoiler Alert: Maybe a little, but nothing that will ruin your life

Coffee Bean Rating: 4/5

Release Date: July 26, 2011

Let me refresh your memories as to how I buy a book (this is not the case for books that are recommended to me).

1.) Peruse through the nearest bookstore for at least an hour before I begin to seriously consider a purchase

2.) Look for catchy and intriguing covers

3.) Read the back of the book

If the cover is A-MA-ZING and the summary interesting, I’ll buy it. I don’t open it up and read a few sample lines. Never have, never will.

So, when I got Wildefire in the mail, I was ecstatic! A) I don’t get many YA ARCs B) the cover was righteously AWESOME (calle lilies are the best flowers ever invented–next to the peony) C) Wildfire was the name of the horse my best friend growing up had.

A + B + C = Winner. It’s simple math.

I picked up the book and read the back and was kind of disappointed. I’ll be honest. The summary didn’t sound like something I would have picked up on my own.

Then I did something I’ve never done before in my life; I opened up to the first page and gave it a sample read. This is what I found:

Ashline Wilde was a human mood ring. Sixteen years old, and she was a cauldron of emotions–frothing, bubbling, and volatile. She had never head of “bottling it all up inside.” She was as transparent as the air itself.

I didn’t put it down until I finished it a week later (give me a break, it would’ve been a lot sooner, but I was busy playing the lottery). This is easily one of my favorite YA books.

Karsten Knight has a way of writing that sucks you in and lets you zip along in the story, eating away hours and days before you even know what’s happened. His imagery and metaphors are breathtaking, and he gives us proof that guys do know what a girl wants to hear:

He stepped forward, and his hand slipped into hers as if it had been there the whole time. “Ash, this is the truth as I know it,” he said seriously. “A b oy grows up restless in a home too small to contain him. So he runs away and spends his youth traveling everywhere that a passport and a backpack will allow, until the dirt from the four corners of the world is caked beneath his fingernails. Until he’s seen so much of this world that he takes a job as far away from it as he can. Somehow, one night, at a bar filled with retirees and old fisherman, in a town that might as well be off the map, he sees a girl sitting at the bar. Even though she’s only twisting idly in her bar stool ordering a drink, that’s all it takes for him to recognize that she might be the fire he’s been looking for. In that moment he realizes that he could spend the rest of his life doing all the things he ever wanted to do in all the the places he ever wanted to see, but if he doesn’t ask her for her name, this is the moment that, forty years from now, he’ll still remember as the moment when he blew it.”

Ashile Wilde is a 16-year-old sophomore with typical boy and catty girl issues. Then, there’s the not so typical, “Oh yeah, I’m really the volcano goddess, Pele” problem.

After a deadly encounter with her delinquent sister, Eve, Ash decides to enroll in a prep school nestled in the redwoods of NoCal (such a perfect local) to start fresh. She makes some friends, attracts some boys, and is the all-star tennis player.

While at an unsanctioned outing at a local dive bar, a fellow student is almost kidnapped and Ash and four of her friends (Rolfe, Raja, Ade and Lily), are the only ones who hear their friend’s cries for help.

That’s when Ash discovers who she and her friends really are–reincarnated gods and goddesses from all world’s religions and mythologies; and that includes Eve. And now, someones trying to collect them. Ash doesn’t know what to do, as she’s given three different stories about what’s really going on around them.

Karsten does a nice job of plopping the reader in the middle of the story and giving us little on-line back stories to fill us in when needed–all us writer’s should take note of that skill. Characters are dangled in front of our noses, and while they don’t play a big role now, it’s only a matter of time before they resurface for more face time.

The story takes place in the span of only eight days, and Ash doesn’t find out she and her friends are deities until halfway through the book, but Karsten’s writing is so captivating smooth and fluid, that the timing was perfect and didn’t feel like “halfway through the book”.

As I mentioned before, he has a skill for metaphors and imagery. With every one (and there are so many, but not overkill in the least) I thought, “wow”. Here are some of my favorites:

The frustration of it all was beginning to make her itch as though larvae were crawling beneath her skin.

…two tall rocks offshore framed the sun between them like fingers holding a burning marble.

A wind picked up over the water. Storm clouds billowed out of nowhere. Within seconds the sky transformed from a clear, moonlit night to a frothing, unsettled cumulonimbus mass. Thunder echoed in the cove, and darkness descended down on them like a falling curtain.

There were a couple of downsides in the book, in my opinion. There was a lot of language (not extreme, but it was there). Lot’s of underage drinking (it seemed like Ash’s friend Jackie was tipsy/drunk a little too much during those 8 days), underage, closed-door sex and even a pregnancy, and last but not least (and to me, the most unsettling), an 18-year-old, college freshman park ranger who’s interested and dating and more with 16-year-old Ash. Creeper. Given the entire story and the ending, I can see where it comes into play. But it doesn’t take away from the slight level of heebie-jeebies it gave me.

Karsten had me worked up like a wet hen in the last chapter of the book. Something happens, and in my head I’m like, “I HATE you, Karsten Knight! I can’t believe you’re going to do this to me, Karsten Knight! I’m going to take your hacky sack and pummel you with it, Karsten Knight!”

But the writer side of me was like, “Mwahaha! I need to meet this genius, Karsten Knight!”

I can see Wildefire easily on Hollywood’s pick-up list. And if that happens, I’d like to volunteer for the role of Ash. Yes, I know I’m not Polynesian, and I am 10 years her senior, but I’m constantly getting carded AND I’m willing to sacrifice hours in the make-up chair in order to be transformed. 🙂

Karsten, if you’re reading this, I’d love to get on your list of Book Two ARC Recipients! 🙂 And if you’re not Karsten and you get the chance to read this book, pick it up and do so. You won’t be sorry. In fact, pre-order it.



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