I’m a complete sucker for a YA thriller, and I loved the premise of this book. It was, in the end, very different from what I expected. And that’s the best way for a thriller to be! This book will take you on a ride and I can’t wait to read more from this fantastic thriller writer!
Rating: 4 stars!
Thanks to Penguin and The Write Reads for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: animal attack, animal death (pet and wildlife), death, fire, wildfire.
About the book:
In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.
But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.
What did I think?
LIES LIKE WILDFIRE is a powerful thriller with a strong narrative voice that pulls you in from the very first page. It builds fast, with a flash-forward prologue followed by our group of main characters – a group of friends that call themselves ‘the monsters’ – drinking at a lake in the forest and accidentally starting the titular wildfire. And then their lives crumble into ash as they try and keep their involvement a secret as their mistake turns into felony reckless arson – and people start to die.
I really loved the way that this showed a tight-knit friendship group crumbling under the weight of their secrets. The monsters have been best friends for a long, long time. They have complicated pacts and promises to each other and they pride themselves on their loyalty. At the very start of LIES LIKE WILDFIRE we see them make one stupid mistake that rips them all apart, testing all of their loyalties. I, personally, did not feel loyal to any of these awful people! I would have reported all of them. Immediately. Possibly framed them for further crimes, to make them stop doing stupid things in front of my eyeballs.
That isn’t remotely a comment on the writing of the characters. They were raw and messy and real, they felt like authentic teenagers faced with the prospect of their lives being ruined. I just also wanted to smack all of them a little bit. Their friendships and relationships are the heart of the book, even as they are rather brutally tested, and I loved that you could feel the history behind their every interaction. Their panic was so real and well characterised, and I could feel the desperation in their every conversation as the wildfire, and their lies, spiralled further and further out of their control. That desperation and fear absolutely bled through to me, as the reader, and I stayed up until one in the morning so that I could finish this book in one sitting because I just had to know what was going to happen next.
I was a little bit frustrated to have a moment of sudden shift from ‘unreliable narrator doesn’t know what’s happening’ to ‘narrator intentionally hiding things from the reader’ because it happened quite late and didn’t fit the voice of the rest of the novel, but overall Hannah’s narrative voice was excellent and I loved trying to piece together what happened from everyone’s panicked texts and mysterious reveals. This book is a complete page-turner, and I think everyone’s going to struggle to put it down once they start. It’s a fantastic YA thriller and I can’t wait to read more from this author, because there’s nothing I love more than messy characters doing awful things and trying to dig themselves out of it again.
Release Date: 9th September 2021