Book Reviews

The Arsonist

Title: The Arsonist

Author: Stephanie Oakes (<3)

Age Group: Middle schoolers and above due to levels of intensity

Rating: 4/4 Stars!!

Synopsis: “Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen. Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school. And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before. When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.” (

Some of you may remember when I reviewed this author’s debut stand-alone novel, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, which I immensely enjoyed. I loved her writing style; it was very engrossing and smooth. It was also one of my favorites moods, which I would describe as mysterious with an edge of darkness and also a few moments of humor–something that makes you think a bit and is also a mystery with lots of exciting twists and turns.

After reading her first book, I had super high expectations for this one. There’s no graceful way to ease into this, so I’ll just say it: I LOVED this book so much and it was actually better than her first book, in my opinion, because she is growing amazingly as a writer. Here are a few highlights that explain what really makes this book awesome:

  1.  The Characters are so original. Every character is so well shown with all their little quirks and it’s just so obvious how original and never-before-seen these characters are. I finished the book feeling very attached to the characters, kind of wishing it could go on forever and definitely feeling a deep understanding of their personalities. I made some new fictional friends *happy dance*.
  2. The Mystery was very well thought out and put together. I will admit there was a time near the end where I started to guess part of the truth, but the key word is ‘part’ because I was still surprised by everything that happened. For most of the book I couldn’t begin to guess where it would go next and it really excited me to just be there for the ride.
  3. The Ending was a mixture of sad and happy feelings for me, partly because I didn’t want it to end. I also felt this way because the ending was written so well: there weren’t any huge loose ends that still needed to be wrapped up or anything that didn’t really make sense. However, there were still a few things that were left to the reader’s imagination. That’s the sort of thing that can keep one up at night, but I do think it is quite a good storytelling tactic.
  4. I Learned something about the cold war! I love a book that can teach something new, so that was definitely a plus to see a bit of the past and feel more informed by the end.

I basically have nothing bad to say about this book! I highly recommend it, especially to mystery lovers.

Happy Reading 2018–Let’s fly together!!

Mayah XO

copyright 2018

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