An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.
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.
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This book is a crazy ride, if you can say so, it’s really a roller coaster of emotions, as it has a very dynamic plot where things are happening from minute one, so I’m happy to say that I enjoyed it even more than I expected, I found it super addictive, and also very easy to read even though it has so many moments of tension and a rather heavy atmosphere due to the tragic events it covers. A very well-thought-out execution for a book full of mystery and plot twists, which is definitely worth reading.
In Lies, Like Wildfire we follow a group of five friends, the main character being Hannah Warner, who’s also the sheriff’s daughter of Gap Mountain, California, where most of them live. It’s summer, so Hannah and the others decide to get together at their favorite spot on the lake, but it doesn’t take them long to realize that this won’t be a summer like any other when by accident they start a fire, and while they all agree to hide what has happened and lie to the police, everything starts to get out of control when the fire takes a dimension that no one expected consuming much of the rural area where they live, taking with it everything in its path. Because of this some of Hannah’s friends begin to regret, and alliances begin to break down. In this context, Hannah’s capable of everything to keep her friends safe because sometimes good people do bad things, right?
I’m super grateful to be part of the blog tour for this book, it’s always a pleasure to be able to share such an amazing story with many other readers, Thank you so much to Dave for the chance! so I’m super excited to bring you my thoughts today.
Needless to say, I obviously liked it a lot, I think when it comes to YA mysteries/thrillers I know I’ll go for it, and even when it’s a genre I’ve already read a lot, it never ceases to surprise me, which I love! In this case, I came across a very ambitious plot that not only wants to tell an intriguing thriller but also explores a lot of other interesting and dark themes. We explore toxic friendships, we explore how tragedies can affect people’s mental health, we explore what a person is capable of doing to save themselves, among other things.
On the one hand, we have the obvious main theme which is the fire, but the book itself starts with the search for a body, so from the beginning, we know that something very tragic happened, and although at the beginning it’s not clear what one thing has to do with the other, it all ties together towards the end making sense and making it even more interesting. I think the author’s choice to reveal a detail that could have been used later in the book as a great plot twist, was incredibly wise because it’s a factor that will keep you wondering what happened, I even felt that since I knew it was going to happen I couldn’t stop reading because I felt that as the book gets more and more into the climax you can sense that it’s about to happen, you’re about to figure everything out, you know? and it’s even more exciting. I also have to admit that the way the author has handled the revelations is brilliant, as she makes sure we get just the right amount of information, but in small measures, to give us the whole truth in the last few pages from the main character’s hands. That alone makes this book SO GOOD!
I loved the writing style, this is my first time reading this author, but it certainly won’t be my last. I love how this book has been compared as being for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart because I agree 100% with that, so if you like those authors you should definitely give Jennifer Lynn Alvarez a chance. Without a doubt, her style is very dynamic, things are always happening, and that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and always wanting to know what’s going to happen next. I also feel that it has a less descriptive style and is more focused on the characters as such, which in this type of plot is a great choice. Also, the dialogues are very good, I always think that’s a great detail that gives a lot of realism to the story.
The amount of tension in this book can’t be legal lol, I was super worried wanting to know what would happen, and then came another mini-revelation or mini-twist that suddenly changed everything and generated even more tension. So it’s definitely one of those reads that keeps your heart in your mouth, trying to figure out what else could go wrong.
The characters are another thing entirely. None of them are exactly lovable characters or ones you can identify with, and that’s the intention I think, it’s not meant to make you like the characters, they’re more like that kind of super conflicted and a toxic group of friends. The author gives a glimpse of each of the personalities in their fair share, but mostly she focuses on Hannah, the main character, and although at times you can understand some of her behaviors… mostly you don’t, and that’s okay, she has a very intriguing erratic personality to know, it’s obvious that you don’t know for sure what she’ll do and that has its catching part. Hannah clearly has extremely toxic behaviors, where we see a lot of obsession about certain people and although at the beginning it seems that her motivations are from sincere concern, towards the end I’m not sure and somehow I like that, I need more characters like these, that aren’t completely good and you know they’re hiding things, they’re incredible to read.
Then we have the other characters and although I’m not going to mention each of them, I can say that although some of them sound cliché they help a lot to move the plot along and the conflicts make sense. The personalities range from the beautiful rich girl, the troubled boy with home issues, the more “decent” girl and the handsome boy that everyone wants to be with and who behaves like a jerk, sounds chliché, right? and it probably is, but this doesn’t take away that a lot of unexpected things happen with this group.
When you talk about a mystery in general you can’t reveal too much, so I don’t want to do that, but I would like to mention that I really liked how this plot was approached, I like it’s dark and that we follow the “villains” instead of the “good and honest people”, you know? that gives another color and tone to the book. Everything that happens in this book is mostly illegal and clearly wrong, still, I hope you get my point, it’s refreshing to read about dysfunctional characters who will do anything to get their way, but also intriguing to see how the dynamic of this group of friends develops, what things will make them doubt each other, what things will keep them together and what will be the breaking point.
I liked the ending a lot, it’s a bit polemic maybe because I think it feels a bit open, but for me, it was perfect. I like how the author approached it, I feel that, without a doubt, it’s that kind of book where we don’t have a “fair” ending but it’s a bit satisfying I must say. I love how the characters’ minds are explored, I’m sure it’s something I already mentioned, but I needed to say it again, especially when talking about Hannah, I don’t want to say too much, but there’s this discussion about what’s right and what’s wrong, and from some people’s point of view, what’s fair and what’s not. It’s also super interesting to see how the mind can turn to anything to leave everything behind, even when you know that something isn’t right. It explores the dark side of people and the primal need to save oneself, which is great!
So in summary, I obviously enjoyed the plot a lot, maybe it’s not the most incredible thing I’ve ever read in my life because I still think some situations are very unrealistic and a bit crazy, but I still enjoyed it a lot, and overall it’s a book worth recommending if like me you, you like mystery/thriller, also if you like plots with lots of unexpected twists and totally crazy moments of high tension and lots and lots of DRAMA! There are betrayals, secrets, and lies going on too, and above all, I give her a lot of credit for choosing to create such peculiar and unlovable-unbelievable characters in the best way. Get ready for a journey of many lows and highs with this read, I’m definitely excited for more people to discover it.
I received my B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. I’m fascinated by underdogs and power dynamics between groups of people.
I’m the author of LIES LIKE WILDFIRE, a teen thriller soon-to-be published by Delacorte Press, and two middle grade book series, each published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, THE GUARDIAN HERD (a quartet) and RIDERS OF THE REALM (a trilogy). Before this, I self-published a middle grade fantasy called THE PET WASHER.
When I’m not writing, you’ll find me galloping my little black mare through the foothills of Sonoma County or teaching free creative writing workshops to kids and adults at various branches of our local library system.
The Healdsburg Literary Guild selected me as their 2019/2020 Literary Laureate for my work in building literacy in my community. It is an honor I hold dear. I am also the current SCBWI Sonoma County Coordinator and a volunteer on the Sonoma County Library Advisory Board.
I live in Northern California with my husband, three children, and more than my fair share of pets!
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