Author: Estevan Vega
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises
Publication Date: May 2010
Paperback: 336 pages
Source: Review Copy
Reviewed by: Laura
RATING: 7/10 – Very good.
BOOK COVER SUMMARY:
Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can’t shut it off.
Before now, three things were true: he both loved and despised his grandmother; his life was going nowhere; and he was alone. But when a strange girl-who feels more normal behind a mask than inside her own skin-moves in next door, Arson hopes to find something he’s never had: purpose. Using what he fears the most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster.
‘Arson‘ is a deep and moving book about Arson Gable, a seventeen year old orphan who lives with his Grandmother and has the ability to create fire with his mind.
Living in remote America, other than his job in an ice cream parlor, Arson lives in relative isolation. That is until the Pheonix family move in next door, and suddenly Arson’s near empty life is awakened. Enter Emery, a scarred yet gutsy girl, who feels safer wearing a mask over her face when she greets the world.
Emery challenges the way Arson lives his life. Forcing him out of his current existence, from a trip to the bowling alley, to volunteering at the local hospital. All small steps that force him to connect with the local community. And as Arson begins to connect and inevitably fall in love, he begins to start to come to terms with his troubled past and present.
Arson’s ability aside, at the root of this novel is a coming of age story about two teenagers both damaged in some way; one emotionally and the other physically.
It also tackles the complexity of family relationships: what it means to love and hate someone all at the same time. As well as difficult issues facing many young adults such as abuse and alcoholism. Arson’s relationship with his elderly Grandmother is painful, as is Emery’s with her dysfunctional and breaking parents.
For a long time throughout the novel, I wondered what the purpose of Arson’s ability was, as it felt like nothing more than a manifestation of teenage angst. If the author had given Arson a box of matches instead, I believe it would of had about the same impact as his pyrokensis on 90% of the novel. And as the book neared its end, I wondered how on earth all of the threads were going to come together.
Then came the conclusion. A compelling, horror filled ending that left me thinking – where on earth did that come from. It seemed to come out of nowhere as though the author had tried to tie the threads together a little too fast. It was shocking and ended on a cliffhanger that leads me to believe there must be a sequel to come.
‘Arson‘ is extremely well written book, packed with stunning imagery. It was dark, intense and at times disturbing. Its navigation through some very difficult issues means that it wasn’t always an easy read, but is compelling never the less.
My one small wish is that Vega had taken a little more time to build the ending as I think it would of had more of the impact he was hoping for.
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