Playing with Fire by April Henry

Playing with Fire by April Henry
August 28, 2021 Alexandra Adlawan

High School

Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees.
But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.

 

Considering that I’ve read two other surviving forest fire stories last year, it appears we are in the midst of a forest fire story boom and April Henry has jumped on the band wagon.

 

If you’ve read April Henry’s books before, you’ll know that her past stories have mainly been about a strong female character trying to escape a horrifying and deadly situation, but those situations are usually caused by a kidnapper, killer or some sort of psychopath. This is the first time the conflict has been nature based.

 

You know how some books start out slow and it takes till like page 100 for the action to start. Well that’s not a problem in this book. The story starts out strong from the first page and the intensity escalates and doesn’t slow down for a second.

 

The only problem I had with this book was how many things went wrong. Seriously, this story has every single worst case scenario and setback you could possibly think of. I think this was done as a way to show Natalia using her medical and psychological knowledge to solve all the different problems.

 

Our cast of characters consists of twelve hikers and one dog, each character having their own strengths and weaknesses. When a story has so many characters sometimes it’s hard to keep them all straight. I suggest writing down the characters names and a small description on paper to keep everyone straight.

 

April Henry once again gives us a strong female character to root for. I found Natalia’s traumatic backstory and her struggle with PTSD captivating. I especially enjoyed the great advise, coping mechanisms, and insightful explanation on PTSD given to her by her therapist, Dr. Paris. I could name a few other female characters from other books who could have used this therapist’s advice to overcome their own trauma.

 

This is an intense story with a pace that matches the situation and I highly recommend reading it all in one go.

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