Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I picked up this book from NetGalley because I loved Ritter in Jessica Jones.  I know that acting and writing are completely different, but I feel like she must have brought a lot of herself to the role, so I was curious about her first novel.

I should say first off that the modern-day mystery-thriller is not my favorite genre.  I did enjoy the book – it was well written and hard to put down. It tells an interesting story and I definitely sympathized with narrator Abby’s angst about reliving her troubled teenager years and trying to find out what happened to her once-best-friend.

But I also found it pretty predictable, and there were a few things that bothered me.  One thing was Abby’s relationship with her father.  She returns to her childhood town and sees her father for the first time in ten years.  He’s very sick and needs to be cared for, but she’s full of anger and resentment towards him, and is worried about that wall of anger coming down and what that might do to her.  All good, except I didn’t feel this was ever really addressed in the story.  It’s very late in the book when we even understand why she hates her father.  The father felt like a bit of an afterthought in a book that had a lot going on.

Another weakness was that Abby (and by the way, I felt this name didn’t suit the darkness of the character at all) constantly has these internal revelations rather than finding actual clues.  There’s an interesting story here, when it’s discovered through interviewing the people of the town.  And I liked that only Abby can put all the pieces together because the story relates to her own history with her missing friend.  All good.  Except for some reason the revelations keep coming from out of nowhere (things like “as I said this, I knew it was true”) which really bugged me. I think this was a minor writing issue more than a major plot issue.  A related problem was how often in this book Abby seemed utterly out of control, mostly from drinking.

Ultimately, there just weren’t a lot of surprises here.  The villains are clearly the villains, and the heroes the heroes, despite a few weak attempts to divert the reader.  The themes and plot structure are pretty formulaic, from the initial “small town girl makes good” to the later “must stop her from revealing what she knows”.

As a story of Abby’s troubled childhood, and the twisted friendships that (sadly) girls so often have, this book was good but could have been even better.  As a mystery, it was on the weak side.  I wish there was something about this book that surprised me, but much of it felt pretty obvious.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher Crown Publishing.  This book was published November 7, 2017.

  4 comments for “Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

  1. Susie | Novel Visits
    November 8, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Sounds like a good one to skip! Thanks for vetting it.

  2. November 8, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Sounds similar to my feelings, not bad just.. ok. I do think Ritter is a talented writer (that prologue was haunting), and crossing my fingers that her next book is better.

  3. November 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    oh dear, you would have thought these issues would be picked up by the editor

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