Author: Robin Wasserman

Book Review – Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

May 27, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Girls on Fire by Robin WassermanGirls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Published by Harper on May 17th 2016
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary, Coming-of-Age
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Waking Dark

two-half-stars

On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.

Like The Virgin Suicides or the novels of Elena Ferrante, Girls on Fire stalks the treacherous territory between girlhood and adulthood. By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, it is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.

style-3 review

‘Origin stories are irrelevant. Nothing matters less than how you were born. What matters is how you die, and how you live. We live for each other, so anything that got us to that point must have been right.’

Girls on Fire left me incredibly conflicted and I sat on my review for several weeks hoping that time would help elucidate my feelings. (It did not. Yet here I am.) Girls on Fire consists of the types of teenagers of a Megan Abbott novel; Dare Me is the one that immediately comes to mind. These teenagers are not the teenagers of a Sarah Dessen novel. They are crude and vulgar, whose actions go well beyond shocking and insulting. I was constantly bouncing back and forth between being impressed by their brazenness and appalled by their impudence. It was a bit exhausting.

‘I loved it. Loved it like Shakespearean sonnets and Hallmark cards and all that shit, like I wanted to buy it flowers and light it candles and fuck it gently with a chainsaw.’

Girls on Fire is set in the early 90s when Nirvana was at the top and Real World was everyone’s obsession. A small town in Pennsylvania is horrified after the supposed suicide of the town jock, Craig Ellison. No one thinks he could have done it but the evidence clearly proves otherwise. While the story begins with Craig’s death and is constantly affected by it, the girls are center stage. Hannah Dexter is diffident and Lacey Champlain is fearless, so when Lacey takes “Dex” under her wing, their relationship becomes increasingly virulent the more time the duo spend together. Nikki Drummond is the requisite “mean girl” of the school and Lacey and Dex’s whole relationship is based on their shared hatred of her.

The writing was opulent and whenever the story lost me slightly in its meanderings, the writing always kept me enticed. The story though, there was something excessive and tiresome about the way these young women were written. Something superfluous about their actions and their demeanor in general. The relationship between Lacey and Dex was intense and so very exorbitant. It wasn’t that the writing didn’t properly portray their relationship with one another, but rather it was written with such detail that you became a part of them and a part of their relationship. The whole thing was distasteful and depleting and something that you definitely did not want to be a part of.

It’s a coming of age tale, about the metamorphose that, especially in individuals so young, can undergo because of the lives they’re forced to lead and the people they choose to surround themselves with. Bit by bit, each girl’s story unfolds and I once again found myself torn between how exactly I should be feeling. Despite my wavering opinion and low rating, this was certainly an audacious story to tell and is likely a very accurate portrayal (if a bit extreme) of female relationships and all the dark niches that are rarely exposed.

‘What matters isn’t how we found each other, Dex, or why. It’s that we did, and what happened next. Smash the right two particles together in the right way and you get a bomb. That’s us, Dex. Accidental fusion.’

Divider

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

September 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin WassermanThe Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 10th 2013
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Girls on Fire

four-stars

A taut, haunting read, The Waking Dark is "a horror story worthy of Stephen King" (Booklist) and will appeal to the readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

The killing day.
The day the devil came to Oleander.
That day.

 Oleander, Kansas is a small, quiet town that was never cause for much attention… until the killing day. The day when twelve people were killed in a few short hours by the hands of their friends and neighbors. Once all surrounding them were dead they then killed themselves having outlived their purpose. One survived to tell her tale, but she remembers nothing of the horrors that she dealt out. When the town is placed under quarantine after a horrific storm does further damage to the town, a darkness wakes in the citizens. The deacon decides this is the perfect opportunity to cleanse the town and the remaining citizens begin to take the law into their own hands.

This book is insanity incarnate. It’s dark and distressing. It’s maddening and stupefying. It’s one of the most horrific books I’ve ever read. It was fantastic. I have never been left more shocked and appalled by a single chapter and that’s just what Robin Wasserman managed to do. The Waking Dark is horror, but it’s not exactly scary. The madness that consumes this small town is more vexing and mortifying than anything and showcases perfectly the mentality of a small town and what can happen when it all goes wrong.

The story is extremely character driven and is told from several different points of view with very distinct characters so it didn’t cause any confusion as its fantastically written. It’s a sordid tale told over the span of a few short weeks with enough violence to last a lifetime. The Waking Dark has drawn comparisons to Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I believe for good reason. Having read both authors I feel that they both possess a subtle eeriness in their writing, a creepiness and unflinching details that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.

I feel it must be said that this is one of the most violent and mature YA books I’ve read and is definitely not meant for a younger crowd. It involves infant murders, detailed meth use, crucifixion and people being burned at the stake (and that’s not even half of the craziness that goes down in these pages). This is not for the faint of heart.

There is so much to say about this story, but so much that needs to be experienced firsthand. I have to say though, I was extremely pleased at how the violence was maintained throughout the story because I figured it would letup at some point, (nope) but I expected it to end in a manner as shocking as the first chapter but it was a bit too tidy of an ending for my liking. Nevertheless, I am most impressed with this author and will be seeking out her past works.

Divider