Speculating on SpecFic

Fantastic Literature: From epic fantasy to fairytales to myth-making

Arson - Estevan Vega Arson is an unexpectedly dark and edgy novel that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Although the story is mainly about seventeen year old Arson Gable, who can create fire with his mind, glimpses into the complicated lives of those around him – his grandmother Kay, his neighbour Aimee and Joel, and of course, their daughter Emery make the book more substantial.Arson wants to die. He hates his strange power – he believes it killed his mother at his birth and causes his grandmother to call him a devil. In some ways Arson is beyond depressed: he is broken. When a new family moves in to his street, he finds himself intrigued by the daughter – Emery – who wears a mask to hide her face. Emery is also depressed, but handles it much better than Arson and genuinely tries to be happy. Their mutual loneliness pulls them together and they slowly heal one another’s hurts and start dating (sort of).Estevan Vega explores isolation and loneliness in a multitude of ways in the novel. Not only through his two protagonists, but those around them as well. Arson’s grandmother suffers from a mental illness (not going to speculate on that it was because I don’t know) and treats Arson horribly because he’s a devil in her eyes. Emery’s parents are extremely unhappy in their relationship and have moved to make a new start on life. In contrast to them there is Abe – a man dying of lung cancer in the hospital that Emery’s mother Aimee works at and where Emery and Arson volunteer their time. He has lots of regrets with how he lived his life and keeps telling Arson and Emery to be braver, love harder, take more risks.Arson is very much a problematic character for me. I understand that he is shy and depressed, but he acts extremely stupidly around both Emery and Mandy, the hot girl he has always had a crush on. He really has no idea what is going on most of the time and it frustrated me. His constant moroseness got under my skin a few times – he has plenty of opportunity throughout the novel to have fun but no, he wasn’t letting go of his issues, choosing instead to pile them onto Emery in an effort to push her away. It would be so awful to have a friend, now wouldn’t it? In contrast, Emery is a great character. Determined and sarcastic, she really thinks that Arson and her can hit it off and become good friends, and she’s absolutely right, if only he would give her a chance. She also has a healthy sense of self-worth and doesn’t let Arson treat her badly, which I enjoyed.The plot of Arson is enjoyable but left a little lacking in terms of explaining Arson’s powers. I feel like I finished the story with no real inkling of how he does what he does, and why. It is also unclear if the peculiar trait runs in his family ( in my mind it’s likely it does) and I hope this is explored further in the next book. Since this is a very short read, it makes sense that all the action is right at the end, but I still wish there had been a better conclusion to the story. I’m fine with cliffhangers, but to me it felt like the author simply stopped writing without really concluding anything.I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this book, regardless of the little hiccups I had with it. It is well executed and an engaging read, I recommend it to anyone looking for an atypical YA novel. I’m surprised at how much ground Estevan Vega is able to cover in this short work, and am looking forward to reading Ashes soon.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.