by Karsten Knight
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
Source: purchased hardcover
Age Rating: 15+
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.
Wildefire is a pretty wild(e) ride—a great story replete with everything you need to have a satisfying read. The world-building feels complete, the characters are well-developed and interesting, the plot has enough going for it to keep it moving along at a good pace, and it manages to shock you a bit here and there—not to mention the megawatt shock of the cliffhangery, plot-twisting conclusion! Whoa… Didn't see that coming.
Ashline Wilde is a Polynesian teenager who was adopted by white Jewish New Yorkers at a young age along with her older sister, Eve. Both of these young ladies are temperamental to say the least, but Ash is inclined towards remorse and guilt in a way that seems to evade Eve. Eve does something so severe to show her love for Ash, it only makes Ash terrified of her, and Ash ends up transferring to a private high school in Northern California just to escape the trauma. Eve is constantly on the run, popping in and out of Ash's life like a ghost she can't fully escape.
Ash ends up meeting other kids with abilities like herself at her new school, which sounds implausible, but the way it's written is completely believable. They all find they have a 'Professor X,' if you will, a ring leader who understands their purpose better than they do, individually, and Ash is informed that she and her unusual friends are all reincarnated gods and goddesses of myth and folklore from all over the world. Pretty darn cool if you ask me.
The complication arises from, who else but Eve, the unscrupulous older sister who reminds me of an evil Kim Kardashian—always beautiful, glamorous, and a total diva. She's a fun character who actually does seem genuinely interested in turning Ash to the dark side so they can be together, but Ash will have none of that. She just wants to be as normal a teenager as possible, sans the crazy sister, and this seems to be the prevailing sentiment with most of her gang of supernatural friends.
But, Ash realizes she needs to watch out for the quiet ones, the friends who don't stand out, nor seem suspicious. She needs to remember this because it's those people who will turn on her, providing a good amount of the shock factor in the story. Of course, I won't spoil who any of these traitorous people are, or who really is just playing the part of a friend to her. You'll just have to read it to find out for yourself.
Some of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel are, for one, the very funny narrative voice, which doesn't surprise me, since I've been watching Karsten Knight's vlogs since a year before this book was published. He's hysterical and I was very happy to find the story written with his delectable sense of humor. The other aspect I love is the origin story of the universe and the concept of The Cloak. They are very odd, mysterious beings that Ash encounters a few frightening times, and I still don't know what to make of them. Good? Bad? Neutral? I just don't know yet, but I look forward to finding out in future installments.
My score: 4 out of 5 stars. (I really liked it.)