- A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price
Price, Shannon A Thousand Fires. Tor Teen, 2020 [304p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-30199-4 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-250-30198-7 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
In Valerie Simons' San Francisco, class warfare has turned to gang warfare, and her little brother has been killed in the crossfire. Eighteen and desperate for revenge, Valerie allows herself to be recruited by the Stags, one of three gangs vying for control of the city, and she soon learns that the conflict is far more complicated and far more personal than she ever knew. She also finds herself torn between her desire for vigilante justice and her abhorrence of the Wars that took her brother, and torn between a first love who is now the member of a rival gang and a potential new love. With its compelling mix of action and introspection, this novel offers a deeply personal journey of self-discovery that grapples with big ideas about gentrification, revolution, and revenge. Though there's a whiff of West Side Story here, the novel is grounded in a social stratification that is very real, lending the alt-world cityscape an air of authenticity and allowing the dystopian elements to read like realism. Growing tension paired with bursts of action and violence keep the plot moving, but it's the personal that will absorb readers, who will be drawn in by Valerie's story and her evolving friendships. A likely standalone novel with a resolution that packs an emotional wallop, it's an excellent option for those who want a book that makes them think and feel.