Release Date ~ February 1, 2013
ARC received from Raincoast Books; blog tour organized by Sourcebooks
Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now...
I'm kind of into superheroes (a bit - mostly Batman) although I never really became involved with comics, oddly enough. I've been saying for a little while that I'd really love to read some more superhero-inspired YA (I think there's a lot of untapped potential there - just saying!) and it was this aspect that initially drew my attention with Blaze.
Blaze isn't exactly a superhero book, but it plays a big part in the plot. This ends up making Blaze a truly fun and unique contemporary that I think is going to have plenty of widespread appeal with all kinds of readers!
- Laugh out loud, tongue-in-cheek humour:
I find funny books to be a rarity; but that may just be that I have an extremely particular sense of humour. I love really dry wit, and Blaze's sense of humour just fit so well with mine that I couldn't help but laugh along. Plus, I thought it was fantastic how she relied on humour in difficult times - I have friends like that, and I sometimes do the same thing and I think it was really neat to see a character who could crack a joke at any time.
- Real perspective on gossip/reputation:
Laurie handles these prevalent teen issues with ease in Blaze but without becoming too "heavy" and without preaching. It becomes so obvious how dangerous and hurtful cruel, thoughtless comments about other people can be. I love that it isn't focused on figuring out who's the victim and who's the villain, but recognizes that all people need to be treated with dignity and respect. And all of this is accomplished in a way that readers will relate to.
- A unique format for a YA book:
One of my favourite aspects of Blaze is that it really utilizes Blaze's love of comics (and her talent as an artist) as one of the ways to immerse the reader in the story. The included illustrations in the book are done by an incredible artist - and while my ARC didn't contain the illustrations, I was able to get an inside look at some of the art for the novel through the Sourcebooks blog tour. I LOVED the way that the illustrations are included with the story, to help bring it to life. It's a really fun way of presenting the story.
You can find a sneak peek of the artwork here. (Includes Mark the Shark and the Blazing Goddess)
I only wish that the consequences for some of the poor choices made had been highlighted a bit better; there are a number of events which take place that many teens will experience (such as sexting, relationships, and gossip) but I don't think the outcome was as convincing as it could have been. Everyone largely comes out unscathed, and I don't mind that overall but I wish that some of these problems weren't as easily to solve as they came across in the book.
But this is a fun book, that's going to appeal to a broad range of readers - those who enjoy contemporary, humour, illustrations and artwork, and even superheroes/comics will find something to appreciate in Blaze.