E-galley received from Netgalley for review.
This book really grabbed me from the first chapter. I read it with bated breath, all in one sitting. It made me laugh, it made me angry, it made me bite my nails waiting for the main character's downfall. Which sort of didn't happen. But more on that later.
William Tucker, nicknamed "Wee Wee" because he's short, is a high school senior in a small Alabama town. His father is a pastor, and his upbringing drives him to be good. He's a volunteer firefighter, works part time at the local grocery store, and always has time to help others. He also has a knack for rescuing people from burning buildings. And it would seem surviving a fire is not completely negative, but that it can bring good in people's lives. William might not be able to take his crush to homecoming, meet his father's high expectation, protect his gay brother from bullies, or make his mother go sober. But he's not afraid of becoming a hero, even if it means lighting fires in the first place.
I loved Will as a character. He has such a refreshing voice. My heart went to him on the first chapter, when he is turned out by his crush because he's too short. And I also liked Samantha very much. I wanted them to get together, but of course, when I got past half of the book I had to give up my romantic notions and accept the fact that it was't meant to happen. Still, they would've made a nice couple.
Even though I loved Will, I also wanted to shake him most of the time. I mean, seriously? Lighting up fires to put them out later? Putting people's lives at risk? Even though it was for a good cause, it was incredibly dangerous. It's almost unbelievable that no one got hurt. I guess he had one hell of a training to work as volunteer firefighter.
When I got to the last page, I wanted to strangle the author. I almost couldn't believe it. Really. Such an open, unsatisfying ending. It almost felt like a suicide. Of course, that was not Will's intention; his words make it clear. But it might be just him being overconfident. And who's supposed to go and save him this time? He was the one doing all the saving.
I found the references to fire and Baptism cool. Baptism works as a sort of metaphor, in that most of the people who survive a fire in the book get a chance to start a new life. Also, the congregation led by Pastor Tucker is Baptist (it sounds like Alabama is full of Baptists, judging from YA books), so it's fitting.
On the other hand, I was very perplexed that Samantha was one of the few black girls at school. I thought Alabama's population was mainly black. I guess I must be wrong, but it's still confusing. And i found it very irritating that the ARC has so many mistakes. Missing words, spelling monsters such as "hear" instead of "here", and so one. Was there so editing at all? I can't believe there wasn't, but I also can't believe an editor would not notice such glaring mistakes. You don't need to be an editor to know how to spell. I really hope they correct those things, otherwise the book is good for the rubbish bin.
I'd recommend this book to lovers of contemporary YA. Also, it's refreshing to red from the perspective of a smart, generous boy for once, after the army of girls who usually populate YA fiction. However, brace yourself for a kind-of-disappointing ending. Cover attraction:
it feels creepy. The dark silhouette against the fire in the background stresses the fact that Will's actions aren't exactly good, even if his heart is in the right place. Or at least it feels that way to me.