I received an digital copy of this book in advance through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I first heard of Fire Song on the BooksandLala YouTube channel. The synopsis immediately had me interested. I requested an ARC from NetGalley, and let me tell you, when I got the email that my request had been approved… there may have been a fist pump. You can find the Goodreads description of it here.
I typically will not read a movie novelization; I don’t see the point. In this case, I had no idea that this was a novelization of the Air Canada Audience Choice Award winning film with the same title. Once I learned that I was a little disappointed, but felt committed to reading and reviewing the novel anyway.
In all honesty, the first two times I sat down to read this I couldn’t really connect to the story. I actually fell asleep. But once I got to a part where the characters were interacting with each other, as opposed to setting up the mood of the story, I found myself really invested.
I think I wanted Shane and David to be like Ari and Dante…. you know how I feel about Ari and Dante. I was expecting a coming of age story about friends learning to accept themselves, each other, and their evolving relationship, while introducing the reader to the struggles of a culture that is, for the most part, overlooked.
And yes, I did get that…. but in a very different way. Where Ari and Dante was an uplifting and feel-good story of acceptance, Fire Song took a pretty depressing route to get us there. And it needed to. This book had the important job of capturing the tragedy and oppressive hopelessness that plagues Native American communities. Just for the reason that it portrays life on a reservation, I think this is worth reading and recommending.
There was a major event in the story that was pretty predictable, but I think it was kind of meant to be. If it was supposed to be a surprise, then the author failed miserably. But there was enough foreshadowing that I expected it, and was still deeply shaken by it.
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I liked it. Maybe even a lot, but I didn’t love it. Shane’s character was well written and very likable. His mother, Jackie’s pain over losing a child was heartbreaking to witness, and I imagine, very realistic. David, though…. I don’t want to say that I didn’t like him, but his choices frustrated me. I understand him, though, I do.
There was a point in reading that I had to check what percentage I had read, and how much was left, because I didn’t understand how much longer the story could go on. I was surprised to see almost half the book remaining, when I thought it should be wrapping up. It almost felt like a different book for the second half of the story.
After finishing the book I watched the trailer for the movie. I don’t know that I would have been interested in it based on the trailer alone. I feel like I’m in a weird position, because usually I resent movie adaptations for leaving parts of a book out. In this case, though, the book is based off the movie…. so it should all be there, right? I enjoyed the book enough to consider watching the movie, especially since it’s available on Netflix.
I am glad I read this book, and look forward to seeing what others think of it. It’s publication date is right around the corner: March 13, 2018.