Liralen's Reviews > Wildefire

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
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Dec 14, 11

bookshelves: z-2011, fiction, reviewed, boarding-school, ya

I can fully support what I believe was the author's intention: to write an ass-kicking heroine who doesn't take crap from anyone. I can also fully support the idea of a bunch of modern-day gods ending up in boarding school together, and I love that there's a very diverse cast of characters.

There's a line, though, between kick-ass and arrogant brat, and unfortunately I think Ashline falls solidly on the wrong side of that line. When a girl "steals" her boyfriend, does she realise that her (ex-)boyfriend was a willing party? No. She beats the girl to a pulp with minimal consequences. She's big on beating people up, actually, just not on other people beating people up. She's snarky, but that snark often sounds more like flat-out bitchiness, and she doesn't suffer real consequences for her actions.

Example: we are told, early on, that the headmistress of her new boarding school is a serious hard ass. Fair, but very strict. So when Ashline and her friends get caught drinking in a bar after curfew...let's see. Does the headmistress lay down the line? Call their parents, give them weeks of detention, tighten their curfews? (I went to boarding school, by the way, and seriously -- being caught out of your dorm after curfew was enough of an offense to begin with. Being caught off-campus after curfew, in a bar...?) Does Ashline show any contrition whatsoever?

Of course not. She talks back, is flippant about the whole situation, is very sarcastic, and makes it very clear that she's not sorry about anything. The headmistress (view spoiler) and gives her a morning of community service.

...

A morning of community service. Which Ashline and her friends don't even serve, because her park-ranger boyfriend made up the community service project explicitly so they could slack off. Anyway, the "real" punishment is wearing ugly orange jumpsuits.

Sigh.

Anyway.

Frankly, I think the whole "gods" bit was underplayed. These teens each find out which god they're reincarnations of -- except for Ashline, who has to figure it out on her own for no discernible reason except that she's extra-special. But they don't actually do anything with their quasi-newfound powers -- except beat up the occasional person trying to abduct them, that is, or wreak major vengeance on minor offenders. Now, granted, they're teenagers, and I would hardly expect every person with some kind of power to try to, oh, I don't know, make a positive difference with that power. But -- none of them? On the other hand, they don't even explore their power properly, so I suppose it's not that surprising. Yet, when one character (about whom we know almost nothing and therefore care little to nothing about) turns to the "dark side", we're supposed to be shocked and disappointed.

Disappointed, yes. But not for the reasons the book sets out.

By the way, I subjected Ashline to the Mary-Sue Litmus Test, and -- granted that others might score her slightly differently -- she earned a 58, comfortably in the "kill it dead" category.
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