I finished The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes last night and I have no idea when or if I will ever stop raving about it. Never have I been angrier about a review on Goodreads. Not that 3.99 stars is terrible, but it just isn’t fair for this mind-blowing book. I will do my best to convince you that this book deserves all 5 stars but I recommend that you order it immediately and just start reading it for yourself. Also, the synopsis DOES NOT DO IT JUSTICE. However, I will let you read it.
Synopsis: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
“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.”Goodreads
Why I Loved It
First of all, if I could give it 6 stars, I would. And this is not even my kind of book! To be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn’t have read it if I had read the synopsis first. I am not into anything historical and the protagonists seemed… strange. Too strange to be able to relate to. But I’ll get more into that later… because the bottom line is: this book was absolutely fantastic.
Molly and Pepper both have their own lives, problems and quirks. They are thrown together when someone sends them off on a strange quest together – to find out who murdered an East German resistance fighter. The reader learns about Ava at the same time as the protagonists. Together, we try to piece the puzzle together. The twists never stop coming and the story gets more exciting with every page turn. In my book reviews I mention that I’m an early bird who reads before bed, and this book kept me up later than planned every night.
Since I don’t want to spoil anything, the only other thing I’ll say is that the ending was great. I find that many books have great build up but then the ending lacks flair. This book knocked it way WAY out of the park. Oh and I give it extra points for having a screaming dog. Pepper’s service dog happens to be a pug that screams – as a proud owner of two dogs that occasionally sound like tortured children, this was a fun addition of comic relief to an otherwise serious book.
What I Didn’t Love
The synopsis. I hate it with a passion. This book is one of the best I’ve ever read and the cover is intriguingly unique. So what went wrong with writing the synopsis? I would not have bought this book if I had read it… zero chance. It actually makes me angry that I could have missed out on something this wonderful due to a synopsis that doesn’t do it justice.
Yes, I’m head over heels with this book, but it wasn’t love at first sight. I read the first three chapters with question marks over my head. Both Molly and Pepper seemed childish and really weird – it was hard to relate to them. So it was after the three chapters that I read the synopsis and thought, what am I reading? But then I closed the book, examined the cover and thought, ‘hmm, it must get better than this.’ I am so glad I kept reading and I will do everything I can to get others to read it too.
Summary: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes is an incredible book with an original plot and excellent execution. There are just so many twists and turns that leave you guessing until the very end. Please ignore the boring synopsis and unrealistic characters in the first few chapters – it gets better. Read the entire book and then judge it. It looks like all the people who hated it on Goodreads expected something different after reading Stephanie’s debut novel The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. I suggest that you grab a copy of both (I just ordered the The Sacred Lies myself) and let me know what you think in the comment section below! Even if you hate it… which is hard to fathom, but we’re all different!
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