Cover Image: Lies Like Wildfire

Lies Like Wildfire

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I absolutely loved this. A young adult (YA) thriller full of suspense. A real page turner. Fast paced. Will they be found out? Arrested? Feel the guilt?

The story focuses on a group of youngsters known as the monsters who accidently start a huge wildfire, as soon as it started they knew they messed up big time and their lives would change forever. With many losing their homes, businesses and pets alongside several deaths this is one huge mistake.

However what made this book for me was the main character Hannah. Her dad is the head of this investigation and she feels awful lying to him and being so close to him. It’s a race to the end to see the outcome for all of the group. Personally I would be livid for them causing so much destruction but they’re only young and they knew they made a huge mistake. Gripping. Thrilling. A well deserved four stars from me.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately this was another book that I tried to get on with multiple times and just couldn't click with. I love a good young adult thriller and mystery, but this one didn't work out for me. I picked it up so many times but sadly it ended up not being one I finished.
Was this review helpful?
4☆ A Gritty and Compulsive Read 

Lies Like Wildfire is a gripping Thriller that is made all the more scary because Wildfires are real and cause so much destruction and devastation it's heartbreaking. 

One Summers day The Monsters, a group of best friends, start a Wildfire in innocence, that very quickly becomes out of hand, leaving behind a trail of destruction and heartache as many people were effected by the fire.
But rather than coming clean for what the group had done, they vowel never to reveal their secret.
But secrets have a way of catching up with you and so does guilt.
Can the group keep something so huge quiet or will the truth come out! 

Lies Like Wildfire is a really Gritty and Compulsive read, there some really cleverly plotted twists along the way to keep you on your toes.
I really liked the suspense of watching the story unravel, trying to work out who would crack first.
So if you love YA, New Adult, Gripping Thrillers, then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Lies Like Wildfire you won't be disappointed!
Was this review helpful?
Lies Like Wildfire is unfortunately one of my most disappointing releases of 2021. I was so excited to read it based on the premise, it sounded right up my street. However, weak writing and plotting let it down. 

I found the characters quite unpleasant to read about, not just from a morally grey perspective as that is a trope I enjoy, but just simply their attitudes, actions and lack of remorse meant I couldn’t root for them at all. I also just didn’t care enough about them to be invested in their journey, and to hope their ending worked out okay.

I had several issues with the writing, mostly that so many of the key plot points of the story happened totally off page, and we simply heard about them later. We missed out on so much excitement as readers by this approach, and it mostly just seemed to be a lazy way to pull off the unreliable narrator trope - just missing out chunks of time, rather than establishing our narrator as truly unreliable. It mostly just felt lazy, weak and without us actually experiencing those exciting scenes, boring.

It also felt to me that the two different halves of the story had such a disconnect that they felt like two entirely different books. The connections between the two parts were tenuous and so separate. It felt as thought the author had two separate ideas they tried to shoehorn together, and the result is a very fragmented narrative with no connection between the two halves. This left both halves feeling a little underdeveloped and in particular left the first half feeling totally pointless, rather than them being two threads of one consistent narrative.

I just wasn’t a fan of this book, unfortunately I found it to be underwhelming, with underdeveloped writing and plotting.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this - excellent book where one lie just escalates and five kids ewnd up in trouble. Plus there's the environmental issue! I would read something by the author - thanks for having me on the tour
Was this review helpful?
This was indeed an intense read. The ‘Monsters’ are revelling in the beginning of summer. The weather is hot, hot, hot and they’re having fun. That is until things take a sinister turn. The fear, suspicion and infighting doesn’t take long to appear after a single moment changes their lives forever. Teenagers can do stupid things. They’re pushing boundaries, making memories and believing they are the centre of the universe. It’s a natural part of growing up. In the case of Hannah and her ‘monsters’ however events take a tragic turn that result in an uncontrollable bush fire sweeping through their town and beyond. Life’s are lost and the lies begin.

The tension is palpable and if I’m honest, there wasn’t one character that I actually liked in this book but, my, did I want to find out how things ended. Relationships that felt like they would last forever are tested and the stress takes it’s toll as events spiral out of control just like the bush fire itself. The question eventually asked is how far would they be prepared to go to keep their secrets safe.

This is a YA novel and It does contain some mature content involving sexual relationships so I would recommend for 16+ or Year 10+ at the very least.
Was this review helpful?
Gripping throughout! So much happened in this book, it was hard to put it down! 

The characters were interesting to follow, and I enjoyed moving between the two halves of the book.
Was this review helpful?
I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour organized by The Write Reads and the publisher. Thank you for this opportunity in exchange for an honest review!

Lies Like Wildfire is a story about a group of teenagers who make one foolish mistake that could ruin the rest of their lives. While drinking during a code red in California, the group accidentally starts a wildfire that sends the lives of everyone in the town into flames. Forced to keep their secret or avoid being charged with a felony, their friendship is put to the test. Can they trust that no one will confess? How far are they willing to go to keep this a secret?

I thought the premise of this novel was fantastic. Unfortunately, unlikable characters was the main reason that I couldn't enjoy it. I was not a fan of the main character at all, and the main supporting character was just as bad. A large part of the plot centers around a completely toxic infatuation/co-dependency that the main character has with her best friend, and I don't think the book did an adequate job in having either of them grow to be better people. In fact, I felt like the main character learned almost nothing from the experiences she went through.

Overall, I think this book had a lot of potential; I was just left wanting so much more.
Was this review helpful?
A group of close friends are spending a hot afternoon together by the lake in California, one of the last opportunities they have to be together before some of them leave for college. As a result of an incident that afternoon a wildfire rages for days in the area, causing damage to property and loss of life. As well as providing a fascinating insight into wildfires and their management,  this novel addresses many challenging issues faced by young people including loyalty, trust, loss, honesty and forgiveness. The conclusion was very unexpected.
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't 100% how I would feel about Lies Like Wildfire. I love thrillers and I especially love thrillers with surprising endings. From the synopsis, I kind of figured the story would be on the straightforward side with no reason to guess what was going to happen in the plot. That's actually not even the case and I absolutely loved the story. Lies Like Wildfire has a lot more to the story other than kids starting a fire and being scared they were going to get caught. The ending has a surprise ending that I absolutely loved.

I can't wait to read more books by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez!
Was this review helpful?
Which one spreads faster - lies or wildfire?

It’s just an ordinary summer day for a group of five friends. Until it turns up to be the most disastrous day for them all.

Like most of the teens in the town, they spend the hot summer days at the Gap Lake. Drinking beer, smoking weed, chilling and making plans for the future. All of the girls- Hannah, Mo and Violet are going to college, while the boys - Drummer and Luke are staying local, finding a job in Gap Lake. But what a strange group of teenagers they are! Hannah - the sheriff's daughter. Violet - an heiress, living in Santa Barbara, but spending the summers with her rich grandma in Gap Lake. Luke - the troublemaker, always neck-deep in troubles. Drummer - the playboy, taking all the advantages he can take from a girl and then throw it away like a rag doll. Finally Mo - a quiet, sweet girl, not famous with anything, fighting her way to the top, aiming for college and a career as a nurse.

But when Luke takes out his pipe while chilling at the Gap, Hannah reacted in the most natural way a sheriff's daughter can - she started yelling at him, that lighting a match in a red flag day is recklessness. The hell comes to earth when Hannah knocks out the pipe off Luke's hand and they accidentally started a fire. The fire that in no time engulfs hundreds of thousands of acres and will destroy homes and will kill people.

There is so much in this book. Friendship being the most important one. I love how fierce Hannah fights and keeps their secrets just to protect her friends from jail. Because monsters don't tell on monsters! They are calling themselves the monsters, because of that summer play where nobody wanted to play the human. The main two rules in the group are: "monsters don't tell on monsters" and "monsters don't date monsters" and Hannah is trying to keep them both. Even though she is in love with Drummer since she remembers, she won't overstep that rule they've set. Imagine what a hit she received when finding out that actually Violet and Drummer are seeing each other. Betrayed. A realisation that Drummer keeps her on a hook because she is always there for him, always ready to clean up his mess.

I didn't like the characters tho. I couldn't connect with them. For me, they are all selfish and unlikable. From spoiled kid to too straightforward one. A guy who uses women and a guy who can't get out of the mess he created. They are quite miserable for teenagers. However, I almost started to like them, when a confession from Mo changed everything for me and I even started to hate them a bit.

I was more into the second part of the book. Actually, the first chapter of the book belongs to the second part of it. It got me confused for a second, but then I galloped through the first part, impatient for the second. Wanted to know what happened with V, why are they looking for her body? Did she die because of the fire? Did the fire kill her?

The story is fast-paced, the twists are perfectly placed. Even though my guess was right, the author keeps you on the hook till the very end. Whereas I knew how this story is going to finish, it didn't take away the enjoyment of reading it till the end.

Although the book is spread through a period of time, starting with the fire, continuing with V's disappearance and at the end we have them a few months after the fire. Surprisingly, the parts fit together perfectly and this is what I like the most about the book - in the end, it ties all the loose ends together. No open end, no wondering. Just an absolutely catch of a book! Fast-paced, hooking and intriguing.
Was this review helpful?
Just the thought of wildfires terrifies me, even though whenever there is one near where I live they are never anywhere close to the scale of those in America, Australia or mainland Europe. Watching the devastation on the news is utterly heart-breaking. Even before reading the author’s note, it was clear that Jennifer has personal experience of  such fires and that experience really comes through in her description of the fire, and in the emotions that it raises.

Lies Like Wildfire is a fascinating story about how one bad decision can spiral out of control, and how one lie can lead to another, and then another. The comparison between the raging wildfire and the ever increasing web of lies, both forging their own path of destruction, makes for a cleverly constructed novel.

Although each of the characters was hard to like at times, and I found Hannah more than a little annoying, it was absolutely compelling reading waiting to discover where the lies were going to take her and her friends and what the truth really was.
Was this review helpful?
I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you so much to the blog tour organiser for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own. 

Trigger warnings: fire, death, mention of drunk driving, murder, lies, secrets, injury, blood, bear attack, animal death. 

Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez is a great YA mystery/thriller that I got the chance to read for the Ultimate Blog Tour organised by Dave, and I’m so glad I signed up. YA mystery is one genre that I can speed through and just keep turning the pages, and this was one such book, I just kept wanting to know what was happening, if the fire would go out if they would find Violet, and what secrets the liars were keeping from the families and the town, but also from themselves.I have to talk about the setting for this book as well as the characters! This book is set in a town in the U.S., in California if I’m not mistaken. From the first pages, we get chucked into this setting which is soon to be on fire, and it was a race against the clock to get the fire put out, but also to find out who set the fire, since it’s a federal offence. The characters we meet when starting this book are a real rag-tag group of friends who have mostly come together because they all live in the same town, with the exception of Violet who is the daughter of rich parents who galivant across the world each year, leaving her to her grandmother in this small town. They are all called the “monsters”, by themselves and by their friends and family, but I was just rooting for everything to be okay for them.

I really liked Hannah from the start, how she is fighting to keep her friends together and later, also fighting against her memory to figure out what could have happened to Violet. I thought that she was a really good narrator, although somewhat unreliable at some points, but that just added to the overall atmosphere of lies, secrets, tension, all made greater from the wildfire raging across California. We learn a lot about Hannah’s family and her personal struggles, her wish to become an FBI agent, and I really liked getting to know her.

I also liked the other characters, I had a soft spot for Mo as I am totally that person who brings a million things in their bag for outings, and make sure everyone is fed and watered ahah! I also thought that Luke really drew the short straw and I felt so sorry for him, and would really have liked to know him better. I just wanted them all to get out and go do everything they had planned for their life after high school. 

As I mentioned above, I have really gotten into YA mysteries/thrillers that I find so different to their adult counterparts. There is usually a great atmosphere and things are just so much more edge-of-your-seat for me, which was the case here. I just wanted to keep reading this book at every chance I got, as I wanted to find out if the monsters would make it out unscathed and what truths would be revealed.

Overall, Lies Like Wildfire was such a great YA mystery/thriller that had me immersed each time I picked it up for “just one more chapter” that turned into 10. It had a really tense atmosphere that makes you keep turning the pages, and the countdowns of how many days the fire has been raging, the casualties from it, and another event (that I won’t mention) just kept me reading to find out what was going to happen in the end.

I liked the pace which I found strong and flowed really nicely, along with the great writing style. The relationships between the characters and their dialogues were nicely written and it made for very believable characters and a very intriguing plot.

I gave this book 4 stars and I really enjoyed it. It was a really fast-paced, well-written and well-thought-out quick YA mystery/thriller. I also NEVER saw that ending coming and it left me with my mouth hanging open because it takes a bit to surprise me, and that wrap-up definitely did leave me stunned. The author did a great job of pointing the suspicion elsewhere! It was a great reveal!

If you love fast-paced, quick, intriguing, tense stories with rag-tag groups of friends, secrets between them, and other mysteries mixed in, and you don’t mind the trigger warnings I mentioned above, then I highly recommend this book, I’m sure you would love it!
Was this review helpful?
This book was a roller coaster of drama and thriller one after the other. I mean, the characters do go off rail in the book and it just keeps the story interesting.

Five friends start a fire by mistake and that mistake cost them a lot. One of them dies and now they don’t know whether to tell the truth or not. The story from the point of view of Hannah, one of the main characters. Hannah wants to keep  the secret that they started the fire because it will keep them and their future safe. But it doesn’t end up that way. Her character development was shocking as it gets.

When I started reading this book, I thought it was only about the fire but as the story moves we see how the characters are with each other. There is jealousy and so much drama going on that the story keeps you on the edge.

The story was worth the read and I absolutely liked this book. I can say that this book is one of my favourites. 

Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin, and NetGalley for providing this eARC as part of a blog tour with The Write Reads in exchange for an honest review.

Five best friends have spent every summer together in their hometown of Gap Mountain. This year is different though: with college and work on the horizon, they decide to make the most of this last summer, until plans for a lazy afternoon by the lake go awry and they accidentally start a wildfire in the forest. As the sheriff’s daughter, Hannah Warner knows well the penalties for starting a wildfire in California, and so they do the only thing that comes to mind – lie to the investigators. But the fire grows increasingly deadly, and with each day it rages on, it becomes harder and harder to maintain their lie and their futures are at risk. Will they be able to keep the secret and protect each other or will their friendship crack under the mounting pressure and guilt as they witness the destruction the fire is causing?

This was certainly an intense read, action packed from beginning to end and I really enjoyed it! It alternates between two timelines, one following the events leading up to the fire and the consequences and the other, some months into the future, where one of the friends, Violet, has disappeared without a trace. I loved the narration style and the suspense and mystery was maintained right until the end. The experience of escaping the raging fire and the evacuation of the town was so well written and the author has done an excellent job with the description of these events.

Despite the entire book being narrated from Hannah’s perspective, I thought the author did really well at giving us a good idea about all five of the central characters and their personalities. The characters were, frankly, extremely unlikeable. There are flawed characters, which make a story realistic, but this was one kind of extreme where I couldn’t bring myself to root for even one of them. They seemed to me a very toxic group who don’t treat each other well at all despite claiming to be best friends. Hannah was probably the worst of them to be honest and not nearly as good as she thinks herself to be.

But the best part of this is that you don’t need to like the characters to enjoy this book – the lies, secrets and sheer curiosity to know how each of their stories end was what kept me reading. Each of them have a lot at stake, some more than others and this secret being revealed could ruin their lives, so they are willing to go to any lengths to protect it, no matter who gets in the way – even one of their own.

The ending was a little ambiguous, and while I usually find that kind of conclusion annoying, it sort of worked in this case. I would still love to read a follow up novel, perhaps a few years into the future, to see if all the lies ever catch up with Hannah and if she becomes an FBI agent like she has always dreamed. I would highly recommend this book and fans of mysteries and thrillers like Karen McManus’ works are sure to enjoy this.
Was this review helpful?
What I Loved
Lies Like Wildfire is a haunting and memorable tale even without the wildfire blowing through their small town.  It is not just a complex, edge-of-your-seat thriller. It's also a rather tragic tale of a group of friends growing up and moving on literally and emotionally.  The transition between high school and adulthood can be challenging to traverse with friends and significant others, in particular.  This novel makes that reality hit home like no other story I've read before.  This is a story about a group of teens who must face a tragedy that could either cement their bond as friends or blow it up at its very foundation.  

The wildfire event keeps the pages flipping very fast for the first half of the book.  Living on the east coast of the US, I've been fortunate to never experience anything like the wildfires that rage on the west coast.  You hear news reports about them all the time, but it all seems so distant and far removed.  This story made each little aspect of the fire feel so real, from the innocent and accidental way it was started to how quickly it got out of control and the lives and property lost as a result.  When the characters were running for their lives from the fire, tears welled up in my eyes at just the pure emotions that were also raging.

I loved the theme of good versus evil and if doing the wrong thing for the right reason is a morally acceptable gray area.  It is very complicated, as many ethical issues are, and exploring that gray area is profound and thrilling in its own way.  This exploration takes up an extra few notches as one of the "monsters" goes missing, which keeps the pages flipping rapidly in the second half of the novel.  Did someone do the unthinkable?  Does that morally gray area suddenly turn the darkest shade of black?  These questions provide all that a reader can hope for in a thriller: plenty of twists and turns, loads of red herrings, and the eventual jaw-dropping conclusion with all its many complex and deeply profound connotations.


Hannah is the main character and unreliable narrator of the story.  She is one of five "monsters" – a group of friends named for their shared desire to not be a human in a Where the Wild Things Are play when they were 7 years old.  They were forever best friends after that summer and even came up with rules to keep their friendships solid and untested.

I can't say that I really liked any of the teens.  Mo (Maureen) was the most relatable for me, but I even got frustrated with her by the end of the story.  They are each very complex individuals struggling to find their place in the world, and they are all made up of a mixed bag of good qualities and frustrating qualities.  Even though totally fitting their age, I did appreciate that the characters did not come across as whiny or superficially angsty.  Instead, their emotions deeply reflected having to navigate ethical issues that would eventually define them.

Reminds Me Of

In the blurb, it is compared to One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.  I can see that.  It also goes a bit deeper, exploring internal and external issues that force the characters to define who they want to be in this world.

What I Wish

As I read this jaw-dropping story, the only thing that I found myself wishing was the inclusion of a few complete scenes of what the group of friends was like together before the fire.  There are brief reflections here and there, but I never felt like I got a good sense of what that bond was like before it was tested.  I think, for me, it would have taken that tragic aspect of the story to a deeper level if I could picture the dynamics of "monsters" when it was strongest.

To Read or Not to Read
A thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you reflect on the morally gray areas, Lies Like Wildfire is a book you will not be able to put down. Even when you do, you will find yourself reflecting back on it and all the deeper meanings contained within its pages.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved the premise for this book and was really excited to read it. Unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me. Although it wasn't for me I did race through it because the writing is very easy and accessible so readers won't struggles with a complex plot or themes, which was one of the books advantages.

However, personally the reason I didn't enjoy it was because the characters were all unlikeable and lacked any personal development. It felt to me like the characters were one dimensional & this just took away any enjoyment for me. Character development for me is one of the main reasons that will determine my enjoyment of a book and without this element in the book I just couldn't rate it higher than I did. More importantly, trying to understand the motivation behind the characters behaviours and actions was very difficult to understand because it felt like there was no motives beyond lying. Of course the title itself makes it clear that lying is there sole motivation after the consequences of the main fire, but the protagonist Hannah showed little motivation behind her further actions and behaviours in the second part of the novel ,which only left me confused and asking why she did it and for what purpose.

The plot also felt slightly disjointed between the two plot points of the fire and murder. It felt in some ways that the author couldn't quite decide whether they were writing a general mystery or a murder mystery, so the genre felt unsure of itself. That said I did enjoy the twist at the end and can say I was surprised because I didn't see it coming, but like I already said the narrative didn't naturally flow into the murder mystery second half for me so was confused about how the plot suddenly took that turn.
Was this review helpful?
This is a thrilling, and chilling!, YA novel that explores the dark sides of youth, where the consequences of their action spirals out of control!  And what follows is the story of lies,tension, regrets and betrayals and I thoroughly enjoyed it - I can already picture the drama series on TV!!

A group of friends are out in the woods and accidentally start a fire - the impact of which is deadly! They don't want to admit responsibility for their actions so they make a pact to stay silent - they weren't there. They saw nothing.  But that involves trying to cover their tracks and soon cracks start to appear in their stories, and as the death toll rises, the conscience of some of the group starts to get the better of them... much to the disgust of others.

This is a really clever book as it covers so many relevant topics of the time - the dangers of using flames in a dry area and how quickly that can spread and how the local areas have to deal with the devastation of one reckless act.  It does get  very dark at times but really does show the impact of peer pressure and how selfish some people can be to save their own backsides.  

It is fast paced and disturbing but a gripping read showing the impact of a rash decision that leads to such devastating consequences for so many innocent people.  How quickly life can change.....
Was this review helpful?
Once I read the blurb for this book I just knew that I had to read it and oh boy what a wild ride it was. The monsters were very intriguing and complex characters in my opinion. They were characters that I loved to hate and hated to love. There were so many twists that I didn’t see coming especially that jaw dropping ending. I can’t wait to see what this author does next.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! What a premise! What a wild ride! The topic of this book couldn’t be more up-to-date, and it was truly scary reading about how the flames are raging and consuming everything along their way. No trees, no animals, no buildings, and no people are safe from the fire. In a matter of seconds, the friends are making a decision: no one tells anybody what happened this fateful summer night. So, nobody will ever know they were involved, right? Right???

From the start, the book hooked me. Alvarez is a very skilled writer – every sentence smoothed to the point. In a matter of lines, I was riding along with Hannah and Drummer towards the lake they like to spend their lazy summer nights at, was smelling the smoke from the fire and felt the friends’ fear. Chapter after chapter, secrets are uncovered, mysteries unleashed, but not all enigmas solved. As dark secrets come to light, the Monsters’ bonds are losing their tight hold. Hannah is in love with Drummer, who is sleeping with Violet – even though it’s one of their firm rules never to date each other. What else don’t they know about each other? The tension rises, and then, one of them goes missing. The one who threatened to tell the police everything. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Hannah finds herself in the hospital, not remembering anything. What happened to her? What happened to her best friend? Who is behind all this?

As good as the tension, the writing, and the story arch in Lies Like Wildfire is, the characters are … well, quite unlikeable, to be honest. Since the author has written this story so expertly I’m gonna go ahead and assume she did this on purpose. Were we not supposed to root for anybody but look out for the clues? I’m not sure! Can’t really put my finger on the why, but the fact that I didn’t really grow to care for any of the characters made me like it less than I could have, but I still wanted to know what happens next.

If you are a fan of teen mysteries like Karen M. McManus’s books and don’t need to love every single character to enjoy a good story, then Lies Like Wildfire is the book for you! You can expect thrilling mysteries, sad tragedies, an excellently woven plot, and many dark secrets that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

4 stars from me for this story that was raging like a wildfire!
Was this review helpful?