Published: 26th July 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Every flame begins with a spark.
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.
I was drawn into this book immediately; the way Karsten Knight writes is both entertaining and imaginative. Unfortunately it mostly went downhill from there. A lot of people have commented that they found Ash to be too violent, but it wasn’t the violence that bugged me-it was the constant changes to her personality. One minute she’s like “violence is the answer” and the next she’s being all diplomatic. She’s a total prude at one point then invites an older guy she barely knows into her school dorm room.
I didn’t really see the need for the 8 month gap between the first and second parts, nor was it explained what the purpose of this gap was. Yes okay, she moved schools but why pick 8months later? It was such an arbitrary amount of time.The ending before the second interlude threw me as well, the parts just did not relate. I’m trying not to give too much away, but after the interlude it was as though the part beforehand just hadn’t happened. I didn’t get how we’d moved from that to the next bit.
I found the character dialogue really entertaining but it was all the same. They might as well have all been the same character for the difference it made. The only distinctions in their personalities were the ones we were told were there, they all appeared the same with their pithy comebacks and sarky commentary. Whilst I enjoy that, I think sacrificing character development for funny one-liners is not a good policy.
Ash’s relationship with Colt both confused and disturbed me. It’s mentioned at one point that he was a minor the previous year which would make him 21, right? And Ash is 16 and at school. There was just something about that that didn’t sit right with me. Plus the whole “I saw you in a bar and knew if I didn’t speak to you I’d regret it the rest of my life” sorry, what? Not only does that make me want to vomit, it’s so unrealistic. I’ve seen plenty of fit people in bars, but I don’t regret not talking to them like, a week later let alone remember them 40 years down the line. How can you have such a strong reaction after seeing someone briefly in a darkened room? Also, I’m 21 and I definitely don’t fancy 16 year olds. Sorry to come back to that point but it really bugged me.
The main thing that really bugged me was how easily the characters adapted to their roles. It was just like “okay”. I really didn’t get that at all. Surely you’d like, doubt it a bit? And then they could use their powers so easily, no training or practise required; they can jump into combat mode automatically. I felt this was unrealistic and felt a bit like the author didn't want to waste time having them hone their skills but given that I felt there was alot of excess pages in this I definitely think it could have been squeezed in somewhere.
The last 50 pages were definitely the best part of the book. A lot happened and it happened fast. Some of it I expected but the majority of it I didn’t. The end pretty much saved the book for me; whilst I enjoyed it, nothing much happened for the first part and I felt like a lot was unexplained, not in the sense that it would be elaborated on in the later books but that it just wasn’t made clear enough for me to fully understand what was going on. I think some of the middle of the book could easily have been sacrificed to make for a more concise and less confusing book.
All in all, I give it 2/5. It was enjoyable and an interesting take on mythology, but I’m not desperate for the sequel.