Paranormal Young Adult
Henry Holt and Co.
Available September 23rd
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse?
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.
When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.
Firebug is a bit of an unexpected story, one that has us fully prepared for events on the darker and grittier side thanks the mention of mafia hit men, contracts and a murdered mother in the synopsis, and while all of the aforementioned play a major part in this tale, they’re woven in between a healthy dose of humor and snark. As a result, Ava’s battle with the Coterie exists in what one might call a label limbo, funny enough to have us laughing out loud on a number of occasions, but also more than serious enough that words like “cute” and “fun” don’t entirely fit. Our inability to affix appropriate adjectives to this story, however, in no way means it’s disappointing, instead the opposite is actually true and Firebug proves itself to be hugely entertaining from beginning to end.
Characters with an extraordinarily dry wit and healthy appreciation for sarcasm tend to be fairly polarizing in terms of readers, that type of humor difficult to pull off without the benefit of facial expressions or tone of voice to really sell it. As a result, many a reader can often be put off when snark is done poorly or grossly exaggerated for effect, but Ms. McBride has created in Ava someone whose humor translates beautifully, her lightning fast comebacks and hilarious banter with best friends Lock and Ezra keeping a smile on our faces throughout.
In addition to being adorably and endearingly sarcastic, Ava also proves herself to be a young woman who is not rendered mute when a cute boy suddenly morphs from sweet and charming to a spectacular douchebag, opening her mouth to let him know his behavior will neither stand unaddressed nor be allowed to continue if he wants to remain in her good graces. She calls things as she sees them, hoping for the best in people but refusing to strap blinders to her face when their true nature rears its ugly head, and there are innumerable times when we want nothing more than to hug her for being true to herself without compromise.
There’s a very mild romance in this first installment, or what might be better described as the potential for romance, but it remains solidly in the background as an element we can’t wait to see explored further as the series continues. The battle against the Coterie remains firmly in the spotlight, reminding us again and again just how serious Ava’s circumstances are when her humor has the tendency to make us forget. Though Firebug is the first of this series, we’re thankfully given a complete story arc–no awful cliffhanger or stunning revelation waiting to sucker punch us on the last page, only a door cracked open for us to slide through when it comes time for the release of book two.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.