*I received a free copy of Fire Colour One from HarperCollins UK via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine
Published by HarperCollins UK on 2 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
A teenage girl will soon discover, there are some things which burn even brighter than fire.
Iris’s father Ernest is at the end of his life.
Her best friend Thurston seems like a distant memory to her.
Her mother has declared war. She means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection so that she can afford to live the high life.
But Ernest has other ideas.
There are things he wants Iris to know. Things he can tell her and things that must wait till he’s gone.
What she does after that is up to her.
Fire Colour One is a strange, sad and slightly twisted tale in which Iris finally meets her father, and her whole past kind of falls into place just at the moment when she needs it the most.
My Fire Colour One review:
Iris is a strange, remote character who has an uncanny ability to observe and see the see the essence of the other characters clearly, even when they think they show the world what the world wants to see. The prose is a little off-beat, but stunningly beautiful. The action in the present time of Fire Colour One takes place over a short time, maybe a few weeks at most. However, Iris brings the reader with her back to important happenings in her past, the first time she met Thurston, the first time she lit a fire, the first time she understood that her mother was only beautiful on the outside.
Dealing with the topic of belonging, at the surface, Fire Colour One seemed to be a quite simple story, however, beneath the exterior, there were other, more important subjects being brought forward as well. Abandonment, adjustment, bereavement, grief, growing up, confusion, and finally love. Iris can’t remember her biological father, and she only knows what her mother has told her about him: he’s filthy rich, threw them out, and never wanted to be a father, nor did he ever try to contact Iris after her mom left England. And even if Iris knows that her mother only says what she wants to be true, not necessarily what is true, when it comes to her father she actually believes her.
Mesmerized by fire, art and her strange, outside of normalcy friend Thurston, Iris is kind of at the outskirt of her own story. Observing, thinking, feeling, but only completely alive while watching a fire burn bright. I loved that the whole story of Fire Colour One is both contained and completely wild. Going from Iris’s inner musings to world famous art, switching continents and sharing her deepest fears, I was taken on a strange trip with her. When her past and her present meet, she is quite calm, and thankfully able to stay calm and get to know her father, Ernest, before he dies.
Once in England, Fire Colour One also becomes a road towards both redemption and to final grief. Deep thoughts about life, death, art, and what is left in the very end are touched upon without ever becoming too heavy or the slightest bit smothering. Written in first and third person point of view, past tense, the story is slow paced but not difficult to follow. Iris is definitely the main character, and through her discoveries, the destination became both the story itself and the end.
Some of my favorite Fire Colour One quotes:
I felt the base of my stomach drop out, just for a second, like ti does on a rollercoaster, when you’re at the top and about to tip over and it’s too late to change your mind and go back. Thurston was always looking for that feeling. He said he went after it because he could never tell if it was the tail end of excitement or the beginning of remorse.
I was hooked right then, on both of them, the boy and the fire. I don’t mind owning up to that.
When Ernest smiled, the creases on his face stacked like towels in a showroom, like pieces of a puzzle. how many times to you have to smile to carve such deep lines in your cheeks? Ten thousand? One million? If a person spends twenty years of their life asleep, how many weeks of it do they spend smiling?
“Fakes?” he said and he laughed.
“Yes, fakes,” I said. “The real won’t be real enough any more. Only appearances will count.”
“Imagine that,” he said. “Hannah and Lowell will fit right in.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: