A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price
Released: November 5, 2019
A Thousand Fires follows Valerie Simons, a young SanFran girl who chooses to join the gang wars that have taken over her city in order to get revenge for her brother's death. Three gangs make up the wars: the Herons, who are rich and powerful, the Boars who are violent and cut throat, and the Stags who are cunning and want one thing--for the wars to end. When Val is recruited by the Stags, she is thrown into a life she still isn't sure she wants, but knows she must have if she's to avenge her younger brother, Leo. Secrets are revealed at every turn and the pain of death looms over them all, whether they expect it or not. And, with the brooding and caring leader of the Stags, Jax, set on ending the wars at any cost, Val must decide what lines she's willing to cross.
For whatever reason, going into the book I expected it have some sort of fantasy element to it. I thought it was going to maybe lean more towards some kind of Divergent-like narrative. However, I was very wrong, but also very okay with that fact. I think this story is far more suited to the real world.
When I first started reading, I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to like it. I'm not much for gangs and wars, but I was surprised by myself, and this book. I had heard a lot of talk about this book all over book Twitter and bookstagram, and when I saw the cover, I knew I had to request it the moment I saw it on NetGalley. I have to say, I'm very glad that I did. I found myself intrigued by the story and its characters, specifically what drove each of them. I think it made the characters very relatable and I was able to grapple with their morality as they did, well, at least the main character. Val's constant is wanting to get revenge on the one who killed her brother. But, she doesn't seem to grapple with the fact that she's willing to take a life to do that. For her, it's a means to an end. For Jax, he's willing to do whatever it takes if it means the wars are over and SanFran can go back to the way it was--without fighting a war it no longer remembers the reason for. Although they sound similar, Val and Jax juxtapose and intertwine in an interesting way. I did get some Romeo and Juliet vibes from this, which I was here for. It's not like it's the center of the story, but I'm a sucker for romance nonetheless. However, I was disappointed in the end, if only because I felt like I didn't get closure from this little love narrative. And that's just me being selfish in loving love.
I liked that friendship and depression and its different forms played a larger role in the narrative, too. It's something you don't see a lot of in books, and I think that representation is needed. That being said, obviously this book isn't going to be for everyone. It deals with grief and depression in some really real ways, and can be disturbing or triggering for some readers. If you don't think you can safely and healthily handle it, don't read it. But, I really liked how the author portrayed it and felt like it was a very real portrayal in so many ways, namely how no two people suffering do it the same way. I think that's really important and glad the author wrote the characters in this way.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to seeing what the author writes next!