ARC Review: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman (Adult Fiction)

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Title: Girls on Fire

Author: Robin Wasserman                                      
Publisher: Little Brown   
Availability: Published May 2016


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...


I requested this ARC when I heard it being compared with Jeffrey Eugenedies' 'The Virgin Suicides.'
Other than this comparison-which could have meant a similarity in theme, plot, or practically anything, and I pretty much didn't know what to expect.

What I found was a dark, deeply gripping web of tragic, complicated, hateable yet endearing characters with the backdrop of a 'Crucible-esque' style town attempting to wrap their children in cotton wool following an unexpected tragedy. 

The use of dual narratives introduced two equally powerful voices in a dynamic revealing of past and development of their relationship. Throughout, I felt conflicted, as reading from both perspectives individually sometimes felt as though they were telling a totally different story- which really added a mysterious nature as the unveiling of the narrators' true selves juxtaposed with what we previously had been lead to believe. The layering of so many extensive and thorough levels of character development somehow managed to not feel clunky or confusing, but instead like a present slowly unwrapping itself as we learn more and more. 

Girls on Fire has been marketed as a thriller, but I would describe it as a harrowing depiction of reality, a multi layered message to society about the influence of community.

With strong underlying themes of the importance of feminism, the impact of religion, toxic relationships, family and identity mixing with social rebellion, Wasserman writes a fearless social commentary magnificently with subtle nods to these issues without straying too far from the story's literary origin.

Girls on Fire is a terrifying web of a story that will snare you between it's pages.

With characters that wouldn't think twice about chewing you up and spitting you out again, this is a novel that, if nothing else, will definitely get under your skin.

5/5 Stars

Happy reading xox

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