I love picking up YA titles here at PBA. I have been introduced to some wonderful new-to-me authors as a result and am happy to add Johanna Parkhurst to this list.
Title: Every Inferno
Author: Johanna Parkhurst
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Depressed. Defiant. Possible alcoholic. These are just a few of the terms used to describe fifteen-year-old Jacob Jasper Jones. Lately, though, JJ has a new one to add to the list: detective. He’s been having strange dreams about the fire that killed his parents ten years ago, and he thinks he finally has the clue to catching the arsonist who destroyed his family.
A murder investigation isn’t the only thing the dreams trigger for JJ. They also lead to secret meetings with his estranged sister, an unlikely connection with a doctor who lost his daughter in the fire, and a confusing friendship with McKinley, a classmate of JJ’s who seems determined to help him solve the mystery.
All JJ wants is to shake the problems that have followed him since that fire, and he’s convinced he must catch the arsonist to do it. But as JJ struggles to find the culprit, he sees there’s more than one mystery in his life he needs to solve.
Fifteen-year-old JJ is troubled. A fire set by an arsonist ten years ago fractured his world, and he still struggles with the after-effects. Recent dreams have been evoking long-buried memories, and JJ is certain that if he finds the arsonist, he can put his demons to rest. With unlikely allies and unwavering determination, he sets out on a journey for the truth only to discover that there is more to ending his turmoil than just finding a murderer.
How fun it is to venture into the YA genre on occasion! It allows me to breathe a little and to surround myself with characters of a different age group with different life problems. I get to know some fascinating young people within the pages of YA novels, and JJ certainly is one of them. He is complex, driven, and so far from perfect. Yet his vulnerability and his charm, regardless of the mistakes he is making, bring to his character a likability that rounds his character out well. Kids have issues, some more difficult to overcome than others. JJ’s are pretty big, yet he works to meet them head-on and to find the answers he needs to move forward with his life.
Part coming-of-age, part murder-mystery, Every Inferno takes the reader into JJ’s world, a world shrouded in doubt, confusion, and low self-worth. That is typical of any average teenager, but JJ has some pretty hefty baggage he’s hauled around in his short life, like the horrifying experience of the fire that took his parents and separated him from his sister. JJ’s investigation into the fire gets ample page time here, and it drives the story along well as he finds clues and makes new friends along the way. With twists and turns and an interesting ending, the mystery is well written and intriguing on a YA level. It also keeps the story well paced with JJ’s more troubling issues, namely his struggle with alcohol and his sexual identity.
As JJ strives to solve the external riddle of the arsonist, there is the constant, underlying conflict he has with himself. These moments of self-questioning and self-discovery are the most satisfying and compelling for me. JJ grapples with who he is and his motives for making the kinds of mistakes he is making, and Ms. Parkhurst does an excellent job of portraying his battle with possible alcohol dependency as a means of coping. His voice is genuine, and his inner turmoil is well written. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with the other characters in the story. The supporting cast is rich, authentically drawn, and an excellent vehicle for sending out strong, positive messages. My only issue was with Darryl’s treatment of JJ, which seems a bit too punitive for the circumstances that surround the reason for their conflict. Outside of that, however, I adored the other personalities in this story, and McKinley is simply a gem!
I thoroughly enjoyed Every Inferno. Characters, storyline, and important social message blend seamlessly to create an entertaining yet poignant story that can be enjoyed by teenagers and older adults alike. I also commend the author for including a final note addressing the issue of teenage alcohol abuse and a list of appropriate resources for her readers. Well done, Ms. Parkhurst.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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