Blog Tour Book Review: LIES LIKE WILDFIRE by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley as part of the tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Blog tour graphic: title flaming letters next to image of book on flames
Genre: Thriller
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone
CW: car accidents, missing persons case, animal attack, wild fire


Book cover for LIES LIKE WILDFIRE: title in white with flames in shape of people on black

In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.

But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


LIES LIKE WILDFIRE is a tense thriller that combines a devastating caused by recklessness and then the tangle of secrets that wrenches a friendship group apart. The first act with the fire is really terrifying, as the blaze burns out of control and everyone has to escape, really driving home the danger and the sheer stupidity of the actions that start it all.

It’s such a hard book to stop reading (I accidentally missed my usual lunch hour because of it!) There are all these secrets and mishaps as police investigations ensnare the friends. The pace just keeps up as the friends fray under the pressure and the net closes. Knowing that something was going to happen to Violet really pushes the first half forward even faster.

There’s this constant sense of wanting to know what happened to Violet (as the opening is of a search for her, and then the book jumps back five weeks to the fire), but also a desperate fear not to know – because how can it be good, given everything that’s happened. Despite it being only from Hannah’s POV, the author manages to make you care deeply for each character, and I didn’t want any of them to have done it.

It’s a really nice take on unreliable narrators. This is not one of those books where you know the character is holding something back (and thus undercuts the tension as you can pretty much guess what happened) or then suddenly information is revealed (which never feels satisfying.) Instead, Hannah is attacked and gets amnesia for the crucial hours where everything with Violet goes down.

It really adds to the mystery, because every option for what happened would be traumatic and so, combined with an attack, gives a really solid reason for the narrator to be unreliable. This creates tension rather than frustration, and still leaves every option wide open.

When the eventual reveal came, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of it, and is why it’s a 4-star read rather than a 5-star. I think I’m going to need to have time to decide whether I liked it, or if it was an ending I’ve seen too much recently that it’s lost the punch-factor.


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