Book Title:
Fire Color One
Book Author:
Jenny Valentine
Publishing Date:
January 31st, 2017
Philomel Books
Date Read:
January 19th, 2017
ARC from publisher - Thank you!


A father and daughter reconnect after a life spent apart to find their mutual love of art isn’t the only thing they share.

Sixteen-year-old Iris itches constantly for the strike of a match. But when she’s caught setting one too many fires, she’s whisked away to London before she can get arrested—at least that’s the story her mother tells. Mounting debt actually drove them out of LA, and it’s greed that brings them to a home Iris doesn’t recognize, where her millionaire father—a man she’s never met—lives. Though not for much longer.

Iris’s father is dying, and her mother is determined to claim his life’s fortune, including his priceless art collection. Forced to live with him as part of an exploitive scheme, Iris soon realizes her father is far different than the man she’s been schooled to hate, and everything she thought she knew—about her father and herself—is suddenly unclear. There may be hidden beauty in Iris’s uncertain past, and future, if only she can see beyond the flames.

My Review

Fire Color One was an interesting little book with a unique plot that combined a teenage pyromaniac, the love for art, and a father and daughter being reunited ahd sharing secrets.  It was also one of those books that I had a bit of a hard time connecting to the main character or the story, even though it was definitely an interesting one.  It was a really quick read, and I finished it in a few hours.  The twist at the end was one that I didn’t really see coming at all, so that made the book quite the delight overall.

Fire Color One is one of those that seems to have slipped under the radar for most, and I was really glad that I had the chance to read it (thank you, Penguin Teen!).  Before I go through and mention the things I did and didn’t care for with Fire Color One, let me start off by talking a little bit about the plot of the book.

“That’s the thing about a good fire.  It empties your head completely.  It razes everything to the ground so there’s nothing left.  It’s the very definition of calm.”

Iris has a love for fire.  She finds herself setting fires – at first, tiny fires in the park, and eventually it escalates to almost burning down her school.  Her mother knows she has a problem, and picks her up and moves her from her home to London, where her estranged father is living.  While her mother insists that it is Iris’s fault they are moving, in reality, it is because her father is rich and dying, and because her mother and step-father have racked up some much debt, there isn’t anything left for them to do.

When Iris’s mother takes her to meet her father, Iris isn’t sure what to expect.  She has spent her life thinking that her father had abandoned her and her mother when she was a baby, and while she doesn’t like the person her mother has become over the years, she doesn’t think she will be able to face her father, either.

As Iris spends at first a few minutes with her father, and then hours at the dying man’s bedside, she learns more about her past than she could have imagined – including the fact that her mother hasn’t been very truthful with her at all.  While Iris’s mother impatiently awaits his death so that she can claim the house, along with all of the valuable artwork and furniture, Iris finds herself wanting just a few more minutes with the man who hadn’t been in her life until now.  Just a few more minutes to learn about him, her past, and the secrets that they share.

This book seemed kind of short, and while I understand that it might have been written this way to keep the pacing even, I feel like it took away from the ability to really connect with the characters in the story.  I didn’t have a chance to get to know any of them.  To be honest, the only character’s name in the whole book I remembered was Iris, because they all just felt sort of bland and not that interesting.  I crave a story that’s character driven, with plenty of development, personality, and, of course, characters that have dialog that doesn’t feel forced, as it did here.  I felt nothing for them, and I felt like it made the book unmemorable.

However, the plot was enjoyable – a teenage girl who has a desire to set fires who gets swept away to London in order to visit her dying father, even though it’s only a ruse on her mother’s account so that she can collect his home and all of his artwork, furniture, and money when he dies.  This is new, I haven’t read anything like this, and I was pretty excited to dive in.  The plot was memorable, enjoyable even.  I honestly felt like this book could have been spectacular had the characters been developed a bit more during the story.

Fire Color One has a great twist at the end – not something that I saw coming, so I was pleasantly surprised by it, that’s for sure.  When I had closed this book, I had to give the ending a round of applause. 

The book was a quick read – I read the whole thing in almost a single sitting.  I did get rather engrossed in it from time to time, which is why I still gave it three stars.  The plot was definitely entertaining and for the most part, really kept me guessing.

3 stars
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