Author: Krysten Ritter
Published: November 7, 2017
Obtained: Giveaway at New York Comic Con
Synopsis: Ten years ago, Abby Williams left her hometown of Barrens, Indiana behind, along with its secrets and disastrous memories. But now, she must return as an environmental lawyer investigating Optimal Plastics, a major company with its roots deeply embedded in Barrens. But, while researching her case and uncovering damning evidence against the corporation, she also manages to uncover the secrets of her past that she was all too eager to leave behind.
Thank you so much to Crown Archetype, a Division of Penguin Random House, for my advanced copy!
Let me start by saying that, when this book was thrust into my hands at NYCC, I had no idea what I was holding. I was barely a month in on my blog and I saw piles of books on tables and didn’t even realize that publishers give away advanced copies there. Next year, I’ll be more prepared!
When I read the back cover after I got home, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Environmental law isn’t something I’m at all familiar with, and I had no clue who Krysten Ritter was. I did a search for her and discovered I recognized her, but never saw any of her work. That being said, I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to read this book. I thought it would be so bogged down by environmental law terms and things I didn’t understand.
But, after seeing so many stellar reviews for it, I changed my mind. Even the fact that it was a Book of the Month choice made me rethink reading it. So I took a chance, opened it up, and read it in practically one sitting! I literally devoured this book!
Ritter’s Distinctive Voice
I still haven’t seen Krysten Ritter in any of her work. But I do plan on checking her out because of this book. Her voice throughout Bonfire was brutal and honest, and I loved every minute of it. Ritter kept the voice consistent and maintained through the whole of the novel.
I also was quite surprised to read that the whole environmental law jargon I was so worried about never once debilitated my reading of Bonfire. It was kept simple and straightforward, and I never got lost or confused by what the characters were describing when talking about Optimal’s shortcuts. There were times I didn’t QUITE understand what they meant, but none of that was detrimental to the storyline. It reminded me so much of Erin Brockovich in both storyline and voice. Erin Brockovich had that same no-nonsense attitude that Abby exuded.
Aside from the environmental law aspect, there was the seriousness of Abby finally returning home after leaving Barrens for good at 18. She was severely bullied by her high school classmates, and I can tell that coming back brought back some seriously messed up memories. I can completely relate to that. I know when I see people who were awful to me in high school and they try to act sweet as pie, I ignore the shit out of them, thinking they don’t deserve my time.
“Barrens has its roots in me. If I want it gone forever, I’ll have to cut them out myself.” – Abby
The thriller storyline of Bonfire was awesome. Abby is led to believe that she’s crazy, spouting conspiracy theories that can’t be proven. I rooted for Abby every step of the way, and the ending didn’t disappoint me.
I know there are a lot of books out there about small towns and what it’s like to be a part of them, and Barrens is no different. Everyone knows everyone’s business, and in a town like Barrens, it’s difficult for anyone to leave the town behind. People graduate high school and stay put afterwards because there are limited opportunities to go anywhere else. Luckily, I don’t live in a town like that. Ritter really has a great understanding of what it’s like to be stuck in a small town.
“In the city, everyone is anonymous; but in a small town where everyone knows everyone, it takes real skill to look the other way, when you’re looking at a face you recognize.” – Abby
For Abby, she was able to leave Barrens behind, but Barrens never really left her. We don’t get to see her outside of this town, but from her descriptions, I could tell that she always had trouble getting rid of Barrens from her memory after she left.
What a story! Like I mentioned before, I read this in almost one sitting. It took me a day to get through Bonfire. It wasn’t a terribly long book, and it was so good that I refused to put it down. I was pleasantly surprised that my suspicions were completely unfounded, and I will be looking out for more of Krysten Ritter’s books, if she decides to write more!
Memorable Quote: “Memories are like fire, and need only a little oxygen to grow.”