This is my second review of Girls on Fire, as I was kindly given a sneak peek into the first chapter – my thoughts can be read here. Switching between Lacey and Dex’s point-of-view, this explores the destructive nature of intense teenage friendships. Music, Satanism, and social masks all come to a head in this explosion of a novel by Robin Wasserman.
After the first chapter, I had really high expectations of this book. There’s something about that sort of combat-boots/flowery dress 90s punk thing that I really like and find fascinating. Girls on Fire did not let me down. It is bitter and cruel and full of things that hurt, but it isn’t horrible to read at all. Despite itself there is a tenderness, even as the characters are put through absolute hell.
Everyone’s talked about the characters, especially Lacey and Dex. To be honest, for this type of narrative, I thought they were pretty standard. Lacey had a particularly blunt way of expressing herself, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t think they were anything too special. However, what I found most interesting was the stifling tone that pervaded throughout the novel. Even as the girls run to the lakes and forests, they are constrained to the point of suffocation. Every action and reaction feels carefully manipulated by the author. The characters are a part of a game, in which only Wasserman knows the rules. I loved that – it felt tricky and violent and very real.
At times the narrative itself felt like a bit of a melodrama, at times. However, that’s kind-of true to being a teenager, I think. Everything is apocalyptic, and all emotions must be expressed in a melodramatic way. I thoroughly enjoyed the sheer intensity of everything that occurred within Girls on Fire – as I’ve seen commented on Twitter, this really is the difference between The Girls, and this novel. The Girls talks about being a teenager – but Girls on Fire really feels it. I can see why people would find this a bit off-putting, but combined with the strange detached-ness Wasserman creates? Yup. It’s a winner.
TL;DR: I’m a fan, but I can definitely see its flaws.