Today I am having the Arson blog tour (hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews) stopping by. Read on for my review of Arson and the chance to win ONE SIGNED COPY OF ARSON (US/Canada) and a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD.
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. After years of living in fear, he will be forced to confront his haunting past and embrace the unknown as he walks the fine line between boy and monster.
Arson is an unexpectedly dark and edgy novel that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Although the story is mainly about seventeen year old Arson Gable, who can create fire with his mind, glimpses into the complicated lives of those around him – his grandmother Kay, his neighbour Aimee and Joel, and of course, their daughter Emery make the book more substantial.
Arson wants to die. He hates his strange power – he believes it killed his mother at his birth and causes his grandmother to call him a devil. In some ways Arson is beyond depressed: he is broken. When a new family moves in to his street, he finds himself intrigued by the daughter – Emery – who wears a mask to hide her face. Emery is also depressed, but handles it much better than Arson and genuinely tries to be happy. Their mutual loneliness pulls them together and they slowly heal one another’s hurts and start dating (sort of).
Estevan Vega explores isolation and loneliness in a multitude of ways in the novel. Not only through his two protagonists, but those around them as well. Arson’s grandmother suffers from a mental illness (not going to speculate on that it was because I don’t know) and treats Arson horribly because he’s a devil in her eyes. Emery’s parents are extremely unhappy in their relationship and have moved to make a new start on life. In contrast to them there is Abe – a man dying of lung cancer in the hospital that Emery’s mother Aimee works at and where Emery and Arson volunteer their time. He has lots of regrets with how he lived his life and keeps telling Arson and Emery to be braver, love harder, take more risks.
Arson is very much a problematic character for me. I understand that he is shy and depressed, but he acts extremely stupidly around both Emery and Mandy, the hot girl he has always had a crush on. He really has no idea what is going on most of the time and it frustrated me. His constant moroseness got under my skin a few times – he has plenty of opportunity throughout the novel to have fun but no, he wasn’t letting go of his issues, choosing instead to pile them onto Emery in an effort to push her away. It would be so awful to have a friend, now wouldn’t it? In contrast, Emery is a great character. Determined and sarcastic, she really thinks that Arson and her can hit it off and become good friends, and she’s absolutely right, if only he would give her a chance. She also has a healthy sense of self-worth and doesn’t let Arson treat her badly, which I enjoyed.
The plot of Arson is enjoyable but left a little lacking in terms of explaining Arson’s powers. I feel like I finished the story with no real inkling of how he does what he does, and why. It is also unclear if the peculiar trait runs in his family ( in my mind it’s likely it does) and I hope this is explored further in the next book. Since this is a very short read, it makes sense that all the action is right at the end, but I still wish there had been a better conclusion to the story. I’m fine with cliffhangers, but to me it felt like the author simply stopped writing without really concluding anything.
I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this book, regardless of the little hiccups I had with it. It is well executed and an engaging read, I recommend it to anyone looking for an atypical YA novel. I’m surprised at how much ground Estevan Vega is able to cover in this short work, and am looking forward to reading Ashes soon.
About the book:
- Date published: 4th May 2010
- Publisher: Stonehouse Ink
- Format: Paperback, 318 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781615666034 ISBN 10: 1615666034
- Categories: Fantasy
- Goodreads / Amazon
Click here to see the full tour schedule and links!
By the age of 15, Vega had published his first novel, Servant of the Realm. His second novel, The Sacred Sin, followed three years later. But when he was 17, he began a very different kind of novel, his most raw and personal and emotional novel to date, ARSON. Make sure you hop by his website, like his book’s Facebook page and follow him on Twitter!
You can win ONE SIGNED COPY OF ARSON (US/Canada) and a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD. Just click the link below to be taken to my giveaway site, where you can enter through the Rafflecopter form. You do NOT have to be a follower of Speculating on SpecFic to enter.