I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley for review purposes
Hannah Dexter is considered irrelevant at school, but not irrelevant enough to go unseen by the school mean girl Nikki Drummond. In junior year at High School, a suicide of Nikki’s boyfriend Craig, shakes up the whole town. Hannah Dexter befriends new girl Lacey brought together by their shared hatred of Nikki. Lacey’s influence turns Hannah into ‘Dex’, the complete opposite of who she once was – she now cuts classes, wears Doc Martins, and listens to Kurt Cobain. yet, Lacey isn’t everything she seems. She has secrets and Dex is kept in the dark. Girls on Fire both starts and ends with tragedy.
Girls on Fire is a disturbing and terrifyingly compelling read. It shows the complexity of women and their friendships and relationships. It shows how toxic societal and parental expectations of girls can be. But it also shows how toxic it is to want to fit it – to belong somewhere. I think it puts across these issues in a really raw and honest way.
“They had to believe that they were the fairer, the weaker sex, the vulnerable, that they could only be good girls or bad, and that the choice, once made, could never be revoked. They had to believe in the consequence of incursion. Girls had to believe there were limits on what a girl could be, and that trespass would lead to punishment.”… “they had to believe that life was danger, and that it was their own responsibility to stay safe, and that nothing they did could guarantee that they would” … “Girls had to believe in everything but their own power, because if girls knew what they could do, imagine what they might”.
I think the writing was exceptional, and beyond the best aspect of Girls on Fire. I loved the dynamics of the relationships and how different they were, and how the effect others have on teenage girls and the influence they can exert. It shows that women and girls are not perfect, no matter how much they appear so or how hard they try to appear so, they are much more complex and have feelings and secrets and can be just as evil and mean as men and boys. That the person shown to the world is not necessarily who we are. A very highly though provoking novel. The pacing, for me, was sometimes too slow for my liking – hence the 4.5 stars. However, I still really loved it.
Girls on Fire gets pretty dark and savage, so much so that I would be hesitant to recommend to teenagers. It definitely is not a YA novel, but I can see how some might view it as such – given that the main characters are teenagers. There are some really hard topics to read about – satanism, rape, bullying, sex, drugs… you name it, this book probably has it so fair warning.
RATING: ★★★★☆ (4.5)