Hello all! Welcome to my December Wrap-Up. I have to confess that I was in a major reading slump in December and managed to read only one book: Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine. I started this book on December 1st, had a gap of 29 days where I read NOTHING (but watched a ton on Netflix 😎 ) and finished it on December 31st… However, I think I’m out of that slump, so hurrah! \O/
This book was also my Library Scavenger Hunt book. December’s challenge was to read a book published in 2015. Check out the Goodreads group along with January’s challenge here!
Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine: Spoiler-free review
Synopsis: Iris lives a strange life in the USA. She has one friend, Thurston and she doesn’t even know where he lives. She is completely alienated from her parents; her mother wants to be rich and her stepfather wants fame. And she likes to start fires. When her mother learn that Iris’s biological father Ernest is on his deathbed, she decides to do all it takes to acquire his priceless art collection when he passes away, including dragging Iris to England to meet the father she has no memory of. But, as she gets to knows Ernest during his last days, she learns many truths, and then some.
This is the first book by Jenny Valentine I have read. It is a fairly short book and should have been something I could have read in a few hours, but I found it hard to get into at the start. I felt very removed from the story at the beginning which might explain why I stopped reading it for so long. The first few chapters felt disjointed and just didn’t sit well with me. I could see the potential though and perhaps if the book were a little longer, that may have allowed for more exploration and explanation that would have helped in the beginning of the story. Having said that, I am glad I persevered; after the shaky start, the book vastly improves and I began to feel more connected to the story and the characters.
In terms of characterisation, Valentine paints a wonderful picture of Iris as a realistic character. She is not your typical whiny, angsty teen protagonist and Valentine does an excellent job of handling the topic of her pyromania, carefully weaving Iris’s desire to start fires into the story. But for me, Valentine gets my praise for her representation of Ernest, Iris’s dying father. He is very ill when he appears in the book, and his character is further explored through the use of flashbacks which is executed well throughout the book.
Unfortunately, I thought Iris’s mother and stepfather came across as a bit cartoonish – they had no redeemable qualities whatsoever. Their desire to live the high life takes priority over their daughter; Hannah is money-hungry and Lowell only cares about making it big as a successful actor. In the same way, Thurston wasn’t handled as well as I’d liked. As Iris’s best friend, I wanted to hear more about him and their interactions. I can see what Valentine was going for; again, if the story were a bit longer, perhaps his characterisation could have been executed a little better.
There are many themes explored in this story; the main ones being friendship, family and dealing with death. The pacing of this book was OK overall, but was truly excellent in the second half of the story. I loved the way the story ended; I must admit, I did not expect it! The twist alone makes this book worth reading.
I feel a bit mean for giving this book three stars, but that shaky start nearly made it a DNF* for me. Having said that, I am glad I went back to it and finished it. I would recommend that you try it and see for yourself. I would probably read this again at some stage and I am definitely interested in reading more of Valentine’s work.3/5
*DNF = Did not finish.