Author: Karsten Knight
Synopsis: Blackwood Academy was supposed to be a fresh start for Ashline Wilde. A secluded boarding school deep in the heart of California’s redwood forests, three thousand miles from her old life—it sounded like the new beginning she needed after an act of unspeakable violence left a girl in her hometown dead. But Blackwood is far from the peaceful haven Ashline was searching for. Because terrifying, supernatural beasts roam the forests around campus. Because the murderer from Ashline’s hometown—her own sister—has followed her across the country. Because a group of reincarnated gods and goddesses has been mysteriously summoned to Blackwood…and Ashline’s one of them.
From the very first chapter, I knew I would have trouble with this book.
Here’s the thing, Wildefire could have been amazing. I wanted to like it given that it had a supposedly strong POC female character and references to mythology from cultures all around the world. Instead, I found myself flipping through its pages not because I was hooked by the story but only for the sake of finishing it.
The main character, who I guess was meant to be an empowering female figure, is my biggest problem with this book. Why do some people think that for a female character to be strong and empowering she also has to be constantly angry? Because that’s what Ashline was for the better part of this book, angry and aggressive for seemingly the pettiest reasons.
Speaking of aggression, the amount of violence in the book was pretty scary. In the sense that I was literally scared whenever Ashline started having violent thoughts. She never shows any remorse or regret for these thoughts and has even been mentioned to enjoy having them.
Most YA fiction readers fall in the range 13 – 18 year olds. As an 18 year old right now I already feel more than uncomfortable with this amount of violence that the author tries to justify by chalking it up to Ashline’s personality. But I can’t say what my reaction would have been if I read this when I was 13. Would I have cheered on Ashline and thought of her as a badass when she was beating up and slut-shaming one of her classmates for “stealing” her boyfriend? (This was the opening scene of the book, by the way.) Who knows? And that’s probably the most terrifying thing about this book. In my opinion, Ashline is not a main character any little girl should relate to much less aspire to be like. Let’s not forget her exaggerated devil-may-care attitude, annoying level of arrogance, and overall self-absorbed personality.
The author, Karsten Knight, writes in a teenager’s point of view in the way that adults I guess, view teenagers. Most of them are overly sarcastic and use way too many curse words. Mr. Knight, I promise you not all teenagers are thumping, sex-crazed Neanderthals who can only communicate with each other through vulgar insults and witty comebacks.
As for the writing, I’m actually torn about whether or not I enjoyed Knight’s style. There were parts of the book where Knight literally stunned me with his descriptive writing. Something about his world building really makes you feel like you’re in the scene instead of just reading about it. However, there were other parts of the book that had descriptions like this: “Perhaps there was some sugar buried beneath her outer coating of Tabasco.” Sadly, the moment the dialogue continued and someone says something offensive for the sake of being offensive I was let down all over again.
I would never want to take away anyone’s reading enjoyment from them, so if you have Wildefire in your to-read list and my review didn’t completely kill your curiosity I still thing you should give this book a try. Maybe you’ll completely disagree with me and rush to get the other books in the series. As for me, I’ve had enough of Ashline, the Wildefire series, and sadly, Karsten Knight to last a lifetime.
Rating: 1 / 5