The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes Review

The Arsonist by Stephanie OakesThe Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Publisher: Dial Books (PenguinTeen)

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Pages: 493

Summary:It starts with a fire. A diary. A murder.

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, she doesn’t believe that her mother killed herself three years ago. And since her father is about to be executed for his crimes, Molly is convinced that her mother will return to her soon. Finally, the hole in her heart will stop hurting.

Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with serious girl problems and the most embarrassing seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer…or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly and Pepper are tasked with finding Ava’s murderer, they realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Arsonist is a thriller, mystery, historical-fiction, and coming of age all in one! With such depth to the main characters, threads of mystery that weave together so perfectly, and surprises at every turn, Oakes novel will have you immersed in this brilliantly crafted story! 

Having been such a huge fan of Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, I knew I wouldn’t miss out on her upcoming books! Though while this one has a lesser rating compared to her 1st book, I still really loved it and had such a fun time reading it!

We follow 3 differing POV’s that all end up weaving together in such a way, you don’t expect! I know as I saw all the pieces coming together, I found the twists and turns of the story to be so well done and left me surprised!

Told through essays (Pepper), letters (Molly), and diary entries (Ava), the story unfolds in such a unique and interesting way!

Starting with Molly Mavity, she’s somewhat of an outcast at school and knows she’ll never really fit in. Her father is a convicted arsonist and currently in jail and as for her mother, is dead. But Molly believes she’s still out there somewhere and is waiting for her return.

Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef is just trying to graduate high school, so he’s given an assignment by his counselor to write essays about each of his classes.

And Ava Dreyman, a girl living in East Germany who, along with her family resist the Stasi rule and hope to one day be free of the Berlin Wall.

Molly and Pepper soon team up when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of what happened to Ava Dreyman.

They find themselves reading her diary titled The Arsonist, visiting people from Ava’s past, traveling to Berlin, and forging a complex friendship along the way.

What I loved about Pepper & Molly so much, was the complex but underlying strong friendship that forges between them as they try to solve the mystery. While Pepper later admits he could possibly imagine a nice relationship between them, he also states their friendship was so much more important and I loved that!

Its clear throughout the novel, that they both feel pretty lonely and really want someone to connect to, feeling like they don’t really belong. Seeing just how alike they are through their POV and seeing them slowly forge their friendship was so beautiful!

Through Ava’s POV we see just how independent and brave she is, when she’s forced to leave her home in East Germany to avoid the Stasi from capturing her. She grows and undergoes so much pain and betrayal when she must leave her family and her home behind. While I loved each of the POV’s equally, her’s was just filled with so much pain and heartache that you just feel so connected to her story and want to see her be reunited with those she loves and be free.

We also get so much depth to her as we see how these traumatic events from her being forced to flee her home, to seeing her members of her family put in danger & even killed, to the betrayal she endures and how it just causes her to become a shadow of who she once was.

I wish I could put into words the complexity of the story, but truly can’t. There’s just so many brilliant points that bring these characters together in ways you just don’t see coming!

What I found made me difficult to truly rate this book a 5, was the writing-style. While I loved that it truly gave you such depth into each of the characters minds and their personalities, I couldn’t help but feel that other aspects fell a bit short. From the setting descriptions to some side characters, they weren’t given as much depth as I would have hoped, which did make it a bit difficult to truly immerse myself in this book. Additionally, the story does get slow paced throughout and due to its length did drag a little bit at some points.

Aside from that, what the writing-style brings that really makes the book stand out and truly shine, is the uniqueness of each POV and how its just brilliantly executed.

There were definitely a few side characters that I felt truly were given such depth and you felt you really knew them by the end of this novel. To start with, Pepper’s father, as we learn what brought him to the U.S. and the heartache he also endures with the loss of his wife, Lido, a friend Ava makes who allows her to find hope again when she finds herself mistakenly put into a mental institution, and Heinrich Werner, a Stasi officer who is in charge of eliminating those who rebel against current republic or attempt to flee.

Overall I highly recommend this book if your looking for a unique mystery that really delivers complex and interesting characters, while keeping you putting pieces together till the very end!

The Arsonist is a uniquely woven tale that brings in mystery, coming-of-age, historical fiction, as you follow 3 distinct POV’s that bring to life such unique and memorable main characters! With such deep underlying messages about family, fighting for what you believe, and the depths of love and loss, Oakes The Arsonist, is not one to miss!

Top 10 Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel

As always this post was created by The Broke and The Bookish.

I can’t wait to share with you my picks for today! I love searching and reading new YA Debuts! And I read quite a lot of them this year.

Now here is the list of authors that have me eagerly anticipating their sophomore novel.

img_87691.Elise Kova- I read her debut novel Air Awakens last month and loved it ❤ I was starting to lose my love for YA Fantasy, but this reminded me why I love it so much! I can’t wait to read the sequel. If you have not read this book I highly recommend you do!

2. Sabaa Tahir-Her debut YA novel An Ember In The Ashes is a whopping 446 pages! I cannot believe I flew through it in a matter of days! The ending definitely has me counting down the days to the sequel coming next year.

3. Victoria Aveyard- Her YA Debut Red Queen was a book I was highly anticipating for this year and I absolutely loved it. Similar to the previous choices, the ending left me excited for what will happen next.

784.Stephanie Oakes- Her YA Debut The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly was a book I would definitely call a hidden gem. This novel centers around a girl who escapes a cult! I have never read a book like that before. Everything about this book was raw and emotional. This novel has put Stephanie’s upcoming book on my radar for sure.

5.Renée Ahdieh- Renée’s Debut The Wrath and The Dawn has me anticipating the sequel for sure! Her writing style was beautiful and made me love this book so much more.

6. David Arnold- His YA Contemporary Debut Mosquitoland is on my top of 2015 for sure. This novel centers around Mim Malone and how she takes a bus to reach her mother in another state. I really loved Mim as a charcter! She was quirky but relatable. Similar to Renee Ahdieh, David’s writing style really made this book great and I can’t wait to read his next book.

7. Nicola Yoon- Having read the summary and hearing great buzz before this book’s release, I was really anticipating this book. I was able to read an ARC of it and I really loved it. The way this story was told, not only through words but with illustrations, really made this book feel more real to me. From what I have seen I don’t think she is writing another book just yet, so I will be patiently waiting! 😀

728. Holly Bodger- Her YA Debut 5 to 1 is another book I would consider a hidden gem. This is a YA Dystopian, but not the typical one you would expect. Taking place in a future India, there are 5 boys for every 1 girl and a competition takes place to see which boy will get the girl. Written in verse and prose, our two main characters fight for freedom, but again, not in the way you expect. From what I have seen there is no other book Holly will release anytime soon, so I will just have to wait and see.

9.Becky Albertali- Her YA Debut Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was a book that left a smile on my face once I finished. She writes dialogue and characters so realistically and makes each of them unique! She has a novel coming out next year & I can’t wait to read it.

6210.Aisha Saeed- Her YA Debut Written In The Stars took me by surprise! It tackles topics I know about, but have never read before. She writes topics and characters in a raw and realistic way that has me eager to read her next upcoming novel.

Which Debut authors have you anticipating their next book? 🙂