This is not a cautionary tale about too much – or the wrong kind – of fucking. This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think.
I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.
Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond and bored at home. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah finds herself befriending new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki.
Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex, a Doc Marten and Kurt Cobain fan, who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . .
Starting – and ending – with tragedy, Girls on Fire stands alongside The Virgin Suicides in its brilliant portrayal of female adolescence, but with a power and assurance all its own.
Well, what can I say about Girls on Fire? Firstly, I liked it. I didn’t love it but Girls on Fire certainly got me thinking about the fragile nature of friendship.
You see, I have always said that teenage girls are horrible. Now before you all jump on the hate bandwagon let me explain. I work in a high school and I see only a daily basis how girls act compared to how boys act. Boys will have an issue with each other, have fisticuffs and then will be playing football with each other half an hour later. Girls, on the other hand, will carry a fight on and they will attack each other in much worse ways. Every day is like Mean Girls. I can also say this because I am a girl. We are horrible.
For me, this is the main theme of Girls on Fire. Robin Wasserman gets to heart of female friendships amid a hormone driven time. Her main characters Lacey and Dex are wonderfully weird and Wasseerman’s clever writing often leads you to switch your alliances between them both, you feel for Dex and hate Lacey but then Dex seems whiney and Lacey’s deviant behaviour is justified. I think it takes a real talent to be able to make the reader be conflicted between characters.
I did feel that the pacing of Girls on Fire was a bit slapdash. Essentially, it is a thriller and at times the pacing didn’t reflect that. I believe that the dual narrative didn’t help this, however, the dual narrative allowed for cliff hangers that made me want to read further so it can be forgiven. The last part of Girls on Fire was fantastic for pacing and tension. I couldn’t put the book down and therefore think that some of the first half of it was a tad redundant.
Overall, Girls on Fire is about the toxic nature of friendship and it is one of the most ambitious YA fiction novels that I have read this year.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is available now.
For more information about Robin Wasserman then visit her website www.robinwasserman.com and follow her on Twitter (@robinwasserman).
For more Little Brown Book Group book titles please visit their website www.littlebrown.co.uk and follow on Twitter (@LittleBrownUK)