*I received an audio copy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
This was one of those books about teens with teen problems but also a bit of magic or powers, a sort of subgenre that I love, and I enjoyed it!
The main character, Dylan, had a fun voice that really sounded “teen,” at least to me, who is admittedly not a teen anymore. But I felt like it had a nice spark of personality with just the right amount of irreverence and messiness and imperfection while still being likeable. He made me laugh sometimes, and thinking back to my high school years, I found some things relatable.
I also liked the romance. Dylan and Jordan had an instant attraction/connection, then they spent time together, went on some dates, texted, and bonded over their mutual secret/danger. And in the time that I got to see of them together, I thought they were cute! They had me smiling. I believed that, whether it was really love or not, they felt something, and for them those feelings were big. I could understand and feel that pull they had to each other.
There were some nice friendships in the book too, and they were just as prominent as the romance. And Dylan had a family who seemed to care.
The heat/fire power element of the story was interesting. It added some unusual struggles to the characters’ everyday lives, since they weren’t always entirely in control of the powers, as well as a bit of action and a threat of danger.
The author did a great job of portraying how things in Dylan’s life kind of spiraled when he got involved with Jordan. I could feel the messiness and the distance it started creating with everyone else in his life. Not because it was a toxic relationship, just because of the weird situation with the powers. And then the author also showed Dylan trying to fix things with everyone, which was nice.
There was also some general teen stuff. Like friend troubles, bullying, extracurriculars, etc.
I want to mention a few complaints, or things I’ve seen mentioned by others, though I found them easy enough to overlook. 1) I don’t feel like I got to know Jordan (the love interest) very well, but the book wasn’t really about him, it was about Dylan. 2) Jordan told Dylan about his powers really quickly, but eh. I’ve had people I barely knew spill personal things to me. Sometimes people have something they just can’t keep in any longer. Granted, Jordan’s secret was dangerous to share, but the fact that Dylan kind of already knew or suspected was probably the excuse Jordan needed. 3) The heat powers seemed slightly inconsistent, and it wasn’t explained how the power transferred, but I just accepted all that as part of the premise. And 4) The whole thing with the bad guys felt overly simplistic and a bit cliche, but I just kinda shrugged that off too.
The audiobook narration by Andrew Gibson took me a bit to get used to, it had a sort of slightly dramatic and bitter feel to it, but I did get into it, and now I feel like it was a good choice. His narration brought a personality and feel to the main character that seemed to suit him. Voices for Dylan and Jordan weren’t super different, one was just a bit more gravelly, but girl characters all sounded different from Dylan, and I never got confused who was talking. I enjoyed the audio.
Overall, I liked the main character’s voice, the first love romance, the friendships, the touch and humor and action, and the unique sci-fi powers. It was a story I enjoyed, and it seems exactly like the kinda thing I would’ve been really into as a teen!
Trigger/Content Warnings: Numerous instances of graphic vomiting.
Anyone who likes queer YA romance, friendship, teens with teen problems but also magic/powers, and a bit of danger and action.