When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out–or die–in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.
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 deal with injuries, wild animals and even a criminal on the lam–before the fire catches them.
Point of view:
Well… that was a stressful listen!
This is my 3rd April Henry teen-centric thriller. Survivalist, person v nature, and strangers banding together combined with what may be the best first date story ever. (Seriously, if you’re ever at a party with 20yrs-from-now Natalia and Wyatt, they win.)
I don’t usually enjoy when authors jump back and forth in time, but the juxtaposition of the current crisis with the horror of Natalia’s past experiences worked really well for me here. For the most part this is a fast paced and harrowing adventure where two teens prove to be heroes. Not only is there a fire to escape, but nature and human limitations work against them. I enjoyed the “one year later” epilogue.
Amy McFadden shines with Henry’s variety of characters of mixed ages and personalities. And the drama and tension! There were several times where I needed Natalia’s grounding strategies to keep myself calm.
About the author:
New York Times-bestselling author April Henry knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. There was one detour on April’s path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children’s author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he showed it to his editor, who asked if she could publish it in Puffin Post, an international children’s magazine. By the time April was in her 30s, she had started writing about hit men, kidnappers, and drug dealers. She has published 25 mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults, with more to come. She is known for meticulously researching her novels to get the details right.
You can connect with April Henry here:
About the narrator:
From Amy McFadden’s website: I live in Michigan and even in the dead of winter I love to laugh so much that I never have to do situps. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t do situps anyway, but hey, laughter is the best medicine, so I must be SUPER healthy, right?
I’m an actress now, and I used to be a 2nd grade teacher. I loved that part of my life, but after doing it for a bunch of years, I was ready to move on to the next version of me. They’re not really very different versions-teachers and actresses both reach out and engage people through stories. I’m NOT a morning person, but waking up to tell stories makes mornings better-than-tolerable.
I love books and the Muppets and smart people and kind people (not necessarily in that order) and sleeping and chocolate and coffee and writers and learning and Oreo cookies and a bunch of other stuff-but I’m starting to make myself gag on all this love.
I hate a bunch of stuff, too, but who cares about that junk? It’s probably the same stuff you hate, so I won’t bore you. Except I REALLY hate listening to people eat bananas.
You can connect with Amy McFadden here:
My Favorite Quotes
“Several hundred yards ahead, the woods were on fire. The woods they needed to go through.”
“They were just nine people with nothing in common except bad luck.”
“Everyone dies, but that doesn’t mean that what happens in between being born and dying doesn’t count.”
“If you can’t outrun a forest fire, then the best place to be is in what smoke jumpers call ‘the black.’ Because things can’t burn twice.”