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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Arson

Arson by Estevan Vega
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Pub. Date: May 4th, 2010
Pages: 318
Age Level: 14+
For review from author

Synopsis via Goodreads

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. Using what he fears the most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster. Dark, moody, and breathtakingly relevant, Arson, the chilling chronicle of an isolated boy with unimaginable ability, is sure to ignite the hearts and minds of a new generation.

Estevan Vega's debut YA novel, Arson, is a darkly compelling and intense journey like no other. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Arson left me with my jaw dropped and my mind spinning.

The characters, and their relationships, were probably the strongest aspect of the book. Honestly, Arson, felt more character driven than plot driven, which did surprise me. There was one relationship, the one between Arson and his grandmother, that took me a while to get used to. At first, it seemed a bit perverse, but then it grew to be scarily realistic and thoroughly done. Arson was a very well developed and likable character once I got to know him; I found him to be both believeable and easy to connect with. His grandmother, Kay, I automatically felt disdain for. That being said, there was a part in Arson that actually had me feeling, dare I say it, sorry for her. I discovered I could no longer just straight out hate her and that there was a lot more to her character. Emery was a very unique and memorable character and while her relationship with Arson was somewhat dysfunctional, I actually liked that about it as it made it more honest. Emery's relationship with her family was also a very meticulously crafted facet that I was not expecting but was glad to find. Oh, and I can't forget Abraham, whom despite not being around much, really added a wry humor to the story that I quite enjoyed. Overall, the characters and their relationships with one another were strong, complicated, and believeable, making this book even better.

I'll admit, once I started Arson, I had some doubts. The book initially came off as disturbing, and not always in a good way, more like Vega was trying too hard to make it edgy. Yet even then I couldn't help turning the pages. Once I'd delved further into Arson, everything seemed to balance out so while the book was still creepy, it was actually very well done. Being a slightly more character-driven book, I found Arson's ability wasn't quite used to it's maximum potential, only bits and pieces here and there. However, the last part of the book was beyond exciting when Arson's ability really came into play. I spent most of the book thinking it was preidctable just to discover how wrong I was. Once I adjusted, I found myself completely engrossed in the story and it turned out to be very deep and captivating.

The writing was exceptionally done, providing both a sense of hope and foreboding. Vega's writing style is actually what first grabbed my attention. Honestly, I'm so surprised by the professionalism I found in it and it really helped create and breathe life into the dark atmosphere of the story. I also loved the way Vega did the alternating perspectives and the fact that he wrote Arson in third-person, something I really felt provided an unbiased sense of seperation that I found necessary for me, as the reader, to have.

The ending Vega gave Arson was just, wow! I was left shaking my head, eyes wide, thinking, It can't just end like that! There HAS to be another book. After speaking with the author, I have every reason to believe there is going to be a sequel. With that in mind, I loved the ending and it definitely has me amped up for the next book.

All in all, while Arson started out a bit rough for me, I was pleasantly surprised to find just how great it became as I continued. In a way, I like to think of Arson as a buried treasure; you may have to dig a little but it's all made worthwhile once you strike the gold. This is not a book I would recommend to everyone as it strikes me as more of an acquired taste. However, if the dark and deep are what you seek, then Arson is definitely the book for you! I know I plan to read it again and there dang well better be a sequel soon or I just might go supernova and explode.

Characters: B+
Writing: B+
Plot: B-
Ending: A-
Enjoyment/Likability: B
Recommendable: B

Overall: B

Cover: B+


Sandy said...

ARSON surprised me with how well-written it was too. I really liked Emery's character and Kay, while horrible at times, was a fascinating character.

Anyway, great review!

Lenore Appelhans said...

I'd not heard much about this one. Thanks for your thoughts on it!

Tawni said...

Great review! This books sounds awesome and I love this cover! Glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you ended up enjoying this. From the description it seemed a little dark. I want to read this sometime.

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Excellent honest review! I've been wondering about this one for a while, and I'm glad to hear you though it was done well overall :)

Mavie said...

Wow, what an amazing review! And yes, some others though the start was a bit rusty. Though, even you said the writing is awesome, other reviewers did too. I actually might give this one a try now! Thanks for your review, bestie. :)

Emma (the Expat) said...

Hi! Glad to come back and see your blog, it's one of my faves!
I think I have a soft spot for this book already...

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Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

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