Oooh, Krysten Ritter – you know, the woman who plays Jessica Jones – has written a book. A proper one too, not a memoir or celeb tell-all. Oooh, it sounds gritty too. Like how she comes across on screen. Oooh. I’m excited! I bet it’s going to be really good!
Except… it really isn’t. I mean, it’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever read, but it’s definitely not a future classic. Sorry Krysten.
The novel begins when the main protagonist Abby goes back to her small hometown to look at a number of complaints from local people about getting ill, purportedly from a chemical leak into the water supply. There’s a big shady company who have potentially caused the problem who basically employ the whole town, so she finds it difficult to get anyone to talk to her. She also has memories of similar issues happening when she was a teenager to some of the girls from her school. As Abby gets pulled back into her former life, she realises that old loyalties die hard and the further she digs, the worse her discoveries become.
So basically, Erin Brockovich?
Well, fictional italics person, I haven’t seen that film but a quick squiz at IMDB
suggests yeah, it’s basically the same story. Oh, except there’s another layer of corruption in Bonfire, which is a good job because *insignificant spoiler alert* this is how the potential water contamination is handled:
(Abby) “Let’s get a water sample and screen it.”
(Guy she works with) “We got the results back from the lab. The water is totally polluted.”
To me, this felt like a really clunky way to get into the main mystery. I would have liked to see faked lab tests, some kind of corruption to stop the results being published…anything to stop this section of the story being such a boring dead end. Or at least if the book had started with this discovery it would have been a good lead in to the actual story, not just a weird aside that felt like a total let down.
The characters in the book were kind of thin – because the whole town is implicated and most characters are white straight men it’s kind of hard to remember the difference between David, Paul, Ryan, Chris, (insert boring white guy name) etc. I also didn’t feel like we found out who exactly knew what and I hate hate hate stories that aren’t fully resolved.
I expected Abby to be a super kick-ass main character but unfortunately she was a total let down. She spent much of the book smashed off her face (because issues) which presumably made it hard for her to work anything out – twice in the book major advancements in the case are made and both times the people who do so are members of Abby’s team. She constantly gets things wrong and needs rescuing by men, which kind of grates after a while. To be honest, I’m getting a bit sick of seeing characters who drink themselves into oblivion then go to work as normal the next day, seemingly with no ill effects. This isn’t normal, it’s not sustainable long term, it’s not something that wouldn’t get you fired pretty quickly. Please stop glamorizing it.
Also the ending is shit.
Overall, a bit of a let down all round. Fairly unlikeable characters, a weird segway part way through, a romance I was not on board with. Not terrible, just meh.
Rating: two and a half bottles of lighter fluid out of five.
Failed to set me on fire (see what I did there?) A meh book from start to finish.