“Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter


asteriaiconI stumbled on this book while reading an article about hot new releases just prior to Christmas, and found that it was available through our library, so I decided to give it a shot. I recognize the author from a number of hit television shows, though the role she stands out best for me is in Veronica Mars.

The story follows a woman named Abby Williams, a successful environmental lawyer living in Chicago. She finds herself taking on a new case that brings her back to Barrens, Indiana, where she grew up. There are a number of medical cases that suggest there is environmental contamination by the town’s biggest employer, Optimal Plastics. Optimal has weaved its way into every aspect of life in Barrens, funding the school extracurricular activities, town events, even offering scholarships to students, so it is hard to find anyone who will speak ill of such a powerful company. While Abby is researching her case, she becomes obsessed with a long lost friend turned enemy who disappeared suddenly at the end of high school, and can’t help but wonder if her disappearance is connected to her current case.

I really wanted to like this book. I like the author as an actress, and the plot sounded interesting. At the end of the day though, this just felt like a drawn out grown up episode of Veronica Mars. Like Erin Brockovich. Don’t get me wrong, I love Veronica Mars, but this just didn’t cut it for me. I found the ending to be rather unrealistic and the “who-dunnit” an easy guess, which totally ruined it for me. I kept telling myself that the character was there to throw you off, that it couldn’t possibly be this glaringly clear, but no…they weren’t and it was.

I think the idea of going back to your roots somewhat overdone. In fact, I remember bringing a ton of books to my favorite used book store for that precise reason…they all had the same structure of going back to where the character grew up to face their past. I think I am over it! I find it sad that it always is the case where the character is doing so well in their big city life, only to go back to a rough country past and confront something they never got over, never able to escape it. Even in the book the main character’s partner is over it pretty quick and leaves her behind. She even gets booted off her own case because she can’t let her past go. I was happy that the book had under 300 pages, I burned through it quickly, hoping things would get better or more suspenseful. I know it is not an easy task to break out of acting in some major roles and turn to writing, and I applaud her for trying. Her writing wasn’t even terrible exactly, I think I just wish she had gone a different way with it all, and with a few tweaks and polishing it could have been so much better, so I do honestly hope she gives it another kick at the can.

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