Bonfire fails to spark

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII. Remember me? I KNOW. But here I am, trying to make some kind of amends.

Today we’re going to talk about Bonfire by Krysten Ritter. I guarantee that you have seen this book in your social media feeds – Ritter has a following because she’s kind of an awesome actress. I always enjoy watching whatever she’s in, although I still have not watched Jessica Jones!


Bonfire is her first novel. In it, Abby Williams, returns to her small town for the first time in a decade. She went away to college, has become a lawyer working in environmental law and never looked back at the life she had before. She’s back in a professional capacity, set to investigate Optimal Plastics, the company that’s lauded as the reason Barrens came back from the brink of extinction.

But they could also be poisoning the water supply.

While she’s back in town, Abby can’t help but remember weird things that happened in the past, especially the illness and disappearance of a former friend of hers, Kaycee Mitchell. Before she disappeared, Kaycee would pass out and one time Abby saw her throwing up blood in the girls’ bathroom.

Everything that I had heard about Bonfire before I read it was positive. And I will say that I did enjoy reading it! But I’m not sure that this is a book that I’ll be raving about.

The story itself was enough to keep me invested but it felt like Ritter was trying to do too much. There was the plastics company potentially poisoning the town, the disappearance of Kaycee and that would have been enough. But Abby is also still dealing with the death of her mother years and years ago, and some kind of trauma surrounding her maybe abusive father? She’s also getting involved with two different guys in town – classic bad boy vs clean cut guy and not  all is what it seems – while letting her hometown get into her head and mess with everything she has built.

Sometimes a lot of different elements like that serve to make a richer, more layered story. But in this case it didn’t feel like that to me. The prose felt kind of basic and while it was a fun story to rip through on a weekend, it wasn’t one that will stay with me for much longer.

But hey, I did actually post about it so that’s a win.

5 thoughts on “Bonfire fails to spark

  1. I didn’t realise that she’d written a book: interesting! Sounds like it wasn’t the most terrific match for you, but, then, maybe it’s not trying to be memorably. There’s probably something to be said for a good weekend read that doesn’t aim to be otherwise. (But, then, maybe it meant to be more and missed the mark.) Congrats on the read-review thing: good on ya!

  2. Hi!!! I researched this one for my BOTM commentary post and I definitely saw positive things, but nothing from any trusted sources. And when a famous actor/tress publishes a book, I’m always skeptical b/c it HAS to be easier for them to get a book deal just based on sales potential from the name recognition….rather than the merits of the actual book.
    So, glad to finally hear from a trusted source. I’ll be passing 🙂

    • The book tried to do a lot and it didn’t really land. It had all of the elements that I’m sure publishers look for, but there wasn’t anything about it that stood out. Probably would have worked better as a script, but for a made-for-tv movie…

  3. So glad I wasn’t the only one let down by this one! I completely agree — she tried to take this in WAY too many directions for a book that was less than 300 pages. One or two of the story lines alone would have been so much better and stronger. Hopefully whatever (if anything) she does next is better!

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