Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Girls on Fire

Summary: 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.

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, Girls on Fire 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. -- Harper

I actually read GIRLS ON FIRE by Robin Wasserman a few weeks ago but have hesitated in writing this review. I'm not really sure what to say, and I definitely don't think I have much to add to the bazillion raving reviews that are already out there. What I can say is that I found this novel to be extremely well written. However, I also found it to be one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. I am pretty sure that's because I am a mom to a teenage girl... and this book doesn't paint teenage girls in a very good light.

GIRLS ON FIRE tells the story of Hannah Dexter and Lacey Champlain. Hannah is a lonely teen who suddenly comes to life when Lacey befriends her after she was seriously bullied. Together they find common ground in their hatred of Nikki, the most popular girl in the school; and Hannah pretty much becomes a major follower of anything and everything Lacey does.

Hannah turns from a quiet girl into one who definitely pushes the envelope. She begins to dress in grungy clothes, listen to Nirvana, worship Kurt Cobain, and even change her name to Dex... because that's what Lacey calls her. As Dex and Lacey become closer, Dex finds that her life is becoming a dangerous "game" concerning both her relationship with Lacey and her hatred of Nikki. The tension builds as Dex finds herself in a dangerous situation, and she is forced to make a terrifying (and life-altering) decision.

I can't really say that I enjoyed GIRLS ON FIRE, but I can definitely say that I appreciated it. I honestly couldn't put down the book which is testament to the author; however, I will also add that it scared the living daylights out of me. The girls in this book were horrible -- a parent's worst nightmare; and their actions gave new meaning to the term "mean girl."

GIRLS ON FIRE isn't for the faint of heart. For most of the book, the characters' actions are bad, but they eventually become even more despicable. And there are more than a few disturbing and even shocking scenes. There is lots of foul language, sex, and violence; and if this book were a movie, it would definitely be rated R. There were times when I was reading this novel that I was downright uncomfortable, both by the language and the subject matter. However, I will admit that nothing made me more out of sorts than these two (or three) girls' behavior.

The story takes place in 1991, right at the height of Nirvana and the grunge movement. I was in high school a few years before this so I appreciated many of the music and fashion references. But that's where the "relating" to this novel ended! I knew "mean" and "bad" girls but they were no even close to the girls in this book -- they were more like sociopaths!

One thing I will definitely say about this book is that it is shocking. And by that, I mean the plot, the characters, and especially the ending. Even as I was reading this novel, I had no idea what was going to happen or what the characters would decide to do. And even when I thought the worst, it was even worse than that!

Overall, GIRLS ON FIRE in an interesting and well-written story about some very disturbed teenage girls. I definitely don't recommend it to those readers who shy away from violence, graphic sex, and bad language; however, I do think there's a big audience out there who will definitely love this twisted story!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I've read mixed things about this book. I'm not sure I'm going to like it but I feel like I need to read it, if that makes sense.