Reviewed by Elise Chen, age 15

Lies like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Set amidst the towering pines on the deep lake of the fictional town of Gap Mountain, five friends, called “The Monsters,” recently graduated high school, and are off to live the summer of their lives. However, faster than they can even break out the beers and beach towels, the five of them find themselves caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and a mysterious fire that threatens to consume everything they hold dear, changing their lives forever. At the heart of the story is Hannah, a smart and tenacious girl, who dreams of escaping the confines of Gap Mountain, scoring the love of her life, Drummer, and making a name for herself in the world of criminal law. Hannah’s plans are disrupted when they accidentally drop a smoking pipe in the woods, setting off a catastrophic fire that breaks out in the nearby woods, engulfing the town in chaos and tragedy. As the flames rage, it becomes clear that the fire is no accident, and the town’s residents are left grappling with fear and suspicion. As the investigation into the fire intensifies, Hannah and her friends—Harper, Whitney, Britt, and Blake—find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of secrets, love, murder, and lies. Each of them harbors their own dark truths, and as the pressure mounts, their friendships begin to crack under the weight of their shared secrets. Hannah becomes determined to hide the truth behind the fire, even as she faces probing investigations from her father, the sheriff, and tangled relationships within her community. With the help of an enigmatic newcomer, Hannah starts to peel back the layers of deception, leading her closer to the murder of one of the friends of the group and is uncertain if she can beat the odds to hide the truth forever. Overall, Lies Like Wildfire was such a great YA mystery/thriller that had me immersed each time I picked it up, and couldn’t stop reading until at least ten chapters. It had a really tense atmosphere that makes you keep turning the pages, and the countdowns of how many days the fire has been raging, the casualties from it, and a crazy plot twist that just kept me reading to find out what was going to happen in the end. I liked the pace which I found strong and flowed really nicely, along with the great writing style. The relationships between the characters and their dialogues were nicely written and it made for very believable characters and a very intriguing plot. I especially loved the soft, sad moments when the author created beautiful characterization, as I think she created the perfect mix of romance and crime. I found the emotions of fear and jealousy so relatable and vivid as I was reading, so I gave this book 5 stars, and I really loved this one. It was a really fast-paced, well-written, and well-thought-out quick YA mystery/thriller. I also did not see that ending coming and it left me stunned in disbelief and empathetic, as the story ends on an unbelievable, bittersweet, numb, ending. The author did a great job of pointing the suspicion elsewhere, and I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fast-paced, quick, intriguing, tense stories with rag-tag groups of friends, secrets between them, and other mysteries mixed in.

5 stars of 5 stars

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Catalog Number: N/A

361 pages