ARC Review: Wildfire by Carrie Mac

Title: Wildfire
Author: Carrie Mac
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 272 Pages
Published January 2020

Summary: Annie and Pete have been best friends since they were little. They know each other better than anyone, and they've been on more adventures than they can count--they even have a notebook filled with all the times they've almost died. But they always survive, because together, they're invincible. And they've always been just friends. But lately, Annie has been thinking that maybe friendship is just the beginning, and she's been mentally replaying all the times they were almost something more. Now they're heading out on their next great quest: a ten-day backpacking trip through the mountains of Washington State, ending at Fire Camp, where they'll learn to fight the area's growing wildfire problem. The woods spark with the promise of adventure, but a freak climbing accident interrupts their progress, and as the wildfires close in and smoke envelops them, Annie and Pete wander farther from the trail.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and let me tell you, I am SO glad that I did! When they first reached out for me and told me the premise of the story, I was immediately on board, because you all know that I'm such a huge fan of YA contemporaries, especially ones involving some element of romance or pining, so this one was right up my alley. And let me tell you, it ended up being such a delightful treat. So without further ado, here's my review!

As the summary explains, Annie and Pete have been best friends forever, always going on daring adventures, having sleepovers, and just generally being the best of friends. They've always been a unit -- that is, until Pete gets a girlfriend, and Annie finds herself getting pretty jealous, and she starts to wonder if maybe they could be something more. And then tragedy strikes, and in an effort to make her feel better, Pete takes Annie on an epic hiking trip in the mountains. But what they're not expecting is for the local wildfire to be getting so close, and for danger to be closer than they anticipated. And what happens on their trip will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It's pretty short, less than 300 pages, so I found myself practically hanging on the edge of my seat and enthusiastically flipping through it, hardly able to put it down. Let me tell you, without spoiling anything, that this book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that you definitely wouldn't expect. There were so many plot twists that left me gasping out loud, and Carrie Mac is such an excellent writer that she truly leaves you wanting more. The fact that the chapters were pretty short was helpful, too -- because it just made me keep falling for that "one more chapter" disease over and over again! 

As someone who falls more into Preet's (Pete's girlfriend's) line of thinking with being afraid of the outdoors, and bugs, and scrapes and sweating and hikes and bruises (I'm really quite lazy), I thought it was absolutely delightful to indulge in reading about the outdoor experience from the comfort of my very own bed. I'd like to say that this book inspired me to go out and take a hike, but nope, I'm still too horribly lazy for that. Instead, it definitely inspired me to read more books involving the great outdoors -- it definitely had major Jenn Bennett/Starry Eyes vibes! 

(MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH -- PLEASE SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM!) And let me tell you, that ending was definitely not something that I expected. You know when you're watching a movie and things are getting tough, but you tell yourself that subconsciously, you know everything is going to be okay, since all books have happy (or at least semi-happy) endings? I know there are a million books that break that rule, but just, know what I mean. So when Pete was getting really sick, I kept telling myself that everything was going to be okay. So when it WASN'T okay, I was genuinely floored and emotionally gutted...but I was also seriously impressed, because Carrie Mac managed to catch me TOTALLY off guard. So while I wouldn't say I loved what happened to Pete (I was devastated, actually), I was definitely impressed with the writing. The only thing that I wasn't 100% sold on with this book was the very ending, when Annie just decides to...what? Hop on a train with her dog and go...places? She's still a teenager, and she's just disappearing like that, and her dad is still willing to let her go off on her own even after everything that happened? It just felt a little bit off and TOO neatly tied together for me. But that's just my own reading tastes, I guess -- I absolutely loved everything else about the book!

Overall, I really loved reading Wildfire. If you're looking for a deep, emotional read that keeps you on the edge of your seat and rips your soul apart while also being short enough to tear through in just a day or two, then I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. I'm super grateful for Penguin for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review, and I can't wait to read more of Carrie Mac's work in the future! 


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