Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review - Arson by Estevan Vega

Arson by Estevan Vega
Published by Tate Publishing on May 4, 2010
Review based on ARC, provided by Traveling ARC Tours
Rating: 4 bookcases


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.

Have you ever read a book that you thought would be about one thing, but as soon as you started reading, realized it was about something entirely different? That is how Arson was for me, but in a good way. Arson is an amazingly nuanced coming of age story. On the surface it is about a teen who can create fire, especially when he is angry. Beneath all the layers of wonderfully written dialogue and descriptions, it is about two people that find each other right when they need each other the most.

Arson Gable doesn’t want to be different, but he is and has to deal with the consequences of who he is and what he’s done. As a result, Arson is lonely and alone. Having no friends, living with an increasingly senile grandmother, and working at a job he hates, Arson is looking at a horrible summer. Until, Emery and her family (the Phoenixes - love that last name and wonder what the significance behind it is) move into the house next door. Emery’s family is falling apart and this move might be their last effort at staying together. That fact alone would make any teen wary about moving and having to make new friends, but Emery, like Arson, is different. She can’t create fire, but she feels more comfortable behind a mask; an actual mask she wears every day. Despite hiding behind her mask, Emery is a forceful character, someone who makes the people around her examine their actions.

Parts of Arson were hard to read, because they were emotionally difficult, but once I got through them I felt that the story was even better because of them. This story is character and relationship driven, with small pockets of action woven in. Arson’s relationship with Emery is the heart of book. It was the most fun to read as it developed and changed and as they pushed each other to face hard truths. Of all the relationships, Arson’s relationship with his grandmother is the most heartbreaking. I had to put the book down a few times, after reading those sections to really sort out the scenes and figure out what actually happened. Once, it was all sorted out, Arson’s character and his actions became much clearer.

After a slow start, the book really picks up, and other than the emotional scenes between Arson and his grandmother, is a quick read. The last third of the book pulls all the threads and subplots together and leads to an ending that leaves the reader wondering what is next for Emery and Arson. This reader can’t wait for the sequel! Overall an emotional and worthwhile read.


  1. I'm halfway through Arson right now, and I couldn't agree more with you! Simply amazing! Great review! :)

  2. High praise, and well styled. This looks like one I need to put on my wish list. Thanks


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