Thursday, March 22, 2018

ARC Review: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Title: The Arsonist
Written by: Stephanie Oakes
Published: April 22, 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.

Pepper Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless 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 gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper 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.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from Michelle who got it from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

When a blogger friend reads a book and then tells you they loved said book and think you will love it too, you listen. Especially if said friend knows your reading tastes and then also gives you their ARC of the book. I had been wanting to read this book since August when Michelle gave it to me but with my move and the reading slump I went through I didn't quite get to it until now. And I am so glad that I read it because I was not disappointed.

My favorite thing about this book was the mystery. This is one of those books where there is a quest through space and time, not like science fiction space and time, just like around the world and to a different time in history. I love books like that and this was a really good one. I loved being along for the ride as the characters traveled around in search of clues, watching it all unfold. For me it was one of those mysteries where I knew how it was all going to end but I was still curious how all the puzzle pieces would fit together. There were still a few surprises though. All in all it was a great mystery and therefore a really engaging plot.

The biggest mystery about this book however is the pacing. This is a pretty long book. The ARC was 491 pages and I breezed through it. Sometimes there are 500 page books that feel like 500 page books and sometimes there are 500 page books that don't feel like books that long. This book was the latter. I seriously couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to know how it was all connected. I even picked up the audiobook so that I didn't have to take that long to finish the book. It was that thrilling and that exciting a read.

One of the other more interesting books was the historical aspects. I am reading this book as part of my historical fiction month so of course I have to talk about the historical aspect to the story. I like my historical fiction to take actual events and people while bringing in fictional characters. This book did that to a lesser degree. The historical stuff was subtle which makes it much more accessible to people who aren't huge fans of historical fiction or historical mysteries. It honestly could have been any modern location that deals with oppressive governments and resistance movements but it chose to do it with a historical element. I really liked that. It's a more modern time but as someone who studied history in college with a specialization in the modern era I liked seeing a book focus on the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was another interest angle for the book.

As far as the characters, they were interesting but didn't quite blow me away. I think maybe this is because this book had three perspectives. First we had the historical perspective of Eva, then we had the modern perspectives of Molly and Pepper. The thing that times them all together is that they have dealt with a lot of loss in their lives. All three characters had rough histories and distinct voices. None of them have been hardened by their experiences. Eva still have a kindness about her, Molly still has this determination, and Pepper has such a great sense of humor. It made the characters really likable and relatable. I do however wish there had been a little bit more of an explanation for some of the side characters and their motivation. I think because there were so many main characters the secondary characters weren't fully fleshed out and in the end I was left wanting more.

But on the whole, this was a great read! I loved the plot full of mystery and adventure, I loved the fact that I couldn't put it down, I loved the historical aspects, and I liked the character. It was a total me book and I seriously owe Michelle for letting me read her copy.

I give The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! I seriously loved this book. If you are a fan of historical mysteries like me definitely check this out. But even if you don't usually like historical novels but you want a book with an engaging mystery check this one out. It's worth the time.

Have you read The Arsonist? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPTY READING!


  1. I got this book as a gift, too. I still haven’t read it because I’m a terrible person. I love historical fiction, so I don’t know why I’m waiting so long to read it. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Im glad you liked it!! The historical parts just felt like something you would like. Sorry about the thing that I know you don't like and just completely breezed over my head because I was so infatuated by the mystery and the history. And I totally agree about the 500 pages. I am a slow reader and kind of hate big-ass books and I read this in a day and a half.