*Originally posted on Southern Bred, Southern Read Blog on 12/07/14*
This is another one of the books that Angela included in her bookswap for me. I’ve seen a lot of attention about Fire in the Woods on social media through other bloggers who have been heavily promoting it. After talking with the author through social media a few times, I really could not wait to read it!
Jess Martinez is a 17 year old aspiring photographer who lives with her widower father that is a Major in the Army. Her mom died a year prior and now her dad is very protective of her even though their relationship is distant and strained. After hearing a plane crash and the whole base going on lock down, Major Martinez is called into active duty leaving Jess alone. He forbids her from leaving the house, but the journalist inside of her calls for her to try to get a better look at what’s going on outside. She ends up meeting David, a gorgeous guy who looks eerily similar to one of Jess’ favorite actors, in the woods who later reveals he is actually an alien. He is hurt and she helps take care of him and eventually ends up bringing him back to her house because he is injured/sick. As the story goes on, Jess realizes that David is the reason that the whole base is locked down and he is who they are looking for. Despite her gut telling her that this whole thing is a super bad idea, she keeps helping him and hiding him. With the help of her best friend, Maggie, Jess and David escape the base and they are search for an extraction place where his ship will recover him. Major Martinez has basically the entire base searching for them as they travel over fifty miles while narrowly escaping the MPs each time. The book concludes with an intense face off with David’s people while the real reason the aliens are there comes forth.
This book…. well, I’m just going to say it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. The entire time I found myself comparing it to Alienated by Melissa Landers which I really love. The bones of the story are good and the concept is good, but there were just some big things that I wasn’t able to get over.
-I really hated how naive Jess was. Yes, I know she was influenced by David in the beginning, but even after repeated inner monologue conversations with herself about how this whole thing seems off and she really should leave, she just stayed because he was a cute guy and he needed her help. To me, she read more as being a 13/14 year old instead of being 17 years old. She seemed very juvenile, and I really just could not stand how the writer would start typing a cuss word but then replace it with something innocent. What’s the point? Why even star the cuss word? It was just really pointless and irritating because it was something SO constant that I could not ignore. It reminded me of being in middle school and coming up with “code” words to pretend were cuss words to sound cool. Not something a 17 year old senior in high school does. I found myself wishing that the main character was actually Maggie, because at least she seemed to have her head on her shoulders and would have added a little more comic relief.
-David seems sweet and innocent the whole time, but really he lied by omission the ENTIRE time to Jess. Sorry, I don’t find his innocence attractive and it just made me dislike him as a character because I just felt like he was using her, even if his feelings for her did end up being genuine.
-Ok, I know not everyone has ever been on a military base, but I grew up outside of one of the country’s largest Army bases. If the entire base was on lockdown because the government feared an alien landing or downed plane or WHATEVER, there is no way that Jess would be able to just slip in and out of her house and roam around as freely as she did. Even if she did manage to sneak out of the house, she lives on a military base for God’s sake! There would be MPs everywhere. There are just too many holes in the story.
Despite all of that, I do think the book is good overall. I think it would translate very well into a Disney movie, and I think it is best suited for younger YA readers. I think people who really enjoy alien books with a little action and a little romance would also enjoy it. Despite my lukewarm feelings towards this book, I will be reading the second book because I think the series overall will be enjoyable.