Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ARSON by Estevan Vega

Reading level: YA
Paperback, 318 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can't shut it off.

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 most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is his 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.

MY REVIEW:  Vega has crafted a gripping novel placing a voice to one of the faceless we see everyday. It's refreshing to read a YA novel about a character who isn't typical or usual. Arson is a quiet kid, a loner, who lives with his grandmother. He has the ability to create fire and blames himself for his mother's death (during childbirth). His grandmother, Kay, has her own issues and is not the supporting kind of person Arson needs in his life. Instead of helping him she only adds to his problems. When he spots his new neighbor, a strange mask-wearing girl, Arson's curiosity is piqued. Her name is Emery and the two become friends. Their friendship is tested during the story's climatic scene.

ARSON is not an easy or quick read; it's a compelling character study about the forgotten. Vega's writing is sparse and gritty. What's amazing is Vega, a college student, writes with the fluidity of a seasoned professional. Arson is sympathetic, a teen boy torn and tortured by his power and need to not turn into a monster. The novel is also a character study of the major and minor characters. We are privy not only to Arson and Emery, but to those closest to them, grandmother Kay and Emery's mom and dad. Their thoughts shape the outcome of their actions, affecting more than themselves. Highly recommended. For an interview with Vega, click here.

RATING: ++++

SERIES: Hopefully (guessing from the cliffhanger-ish ending).

FOR FANS OF: Contemporary YA.

REVIEWED BY: Laurie

BOOK SOURCE: Provided by Traveling ARC Tours.

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