Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SUMMER OF FIRE by Kitty Pilgrim (✮✮✮)

I was a bit surprised by how highly this book was reviewed, as I just couldn’t get on board with everyone’s excitement. Part of my issue could be that the book is part of a series of books featuring as characters the oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton and the archaeologist John Sinclair. While the novel is self-contained, with the plot not being at all dependent upon that of earlier books in the series, I did feel as if I were stepping into a number of relationships that might have felt better fleshed out had I begun with the first book, The Explorer’s Code.

That admission made, I still didn’t enjoy the characters themselves as much as I thought I should. Often, they felt very cliched: brainiac couple (check), misguided teen (check), adventurous photographer (check), glamour girl (check). It almost felt like the author was trying to cover too many character traits; you would just be so unlikely to find within one close-knit group of people the kinds of disparate characters and relationships that she draws.

Plot lines were another place where credibility was stretched to the snapping point for me. Too many things just tiptoed along the ridge of tumbling over. On the positive side, I did feel that all strands of the plot were resolved by the novel’s end.

What salvaged the book for me was the obvious knowledge that the author has regarding the science of her subject, in this case volcanoes. Not only does she possess the knowledge, but she weaves it deftly through the story, giving a large amount of information without ever making the reader feel as if they are being lectured by one of the novel’s characters.

There is a bit of everything in this novel, which, while it seemed a bit over the top for me, is probably why a variety readers enjoy it—everyone is likely to find at least one aspect of the book they can get on board with—there is romance, some suspense, volcanoes, and convoluted relationships. I would recommend this novel for readers interested in a light, fun, beach-type read.

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