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!Free ☿ The Arsonist ♐ Molly Mavity Is Not A Normal Teenage Girl For One Thing, Her Father Is A Convicted Murderer, And His Execution Date Is Fast Approaching For Another, Molly Refuses To Believe That Her Mother Is Dead, And She Waits For The Day When They Ll Be Reunited Despite All Evidence That This Will Never HappenPepper Yusef Is Not Your Average Teenage Boy A Kuwaiti Immigrant With Epilepsy, Serious Girl Problems, And The Most Useless Seizure Dog In Existence, He Has To Write A Series Of Essays Over The Summer Or Fail Out Of SchoolAnd Ava Dreyman The Brave And Beautiful East German Resistance Fighter Whose Murder At Seventeen Led To The Destruction Of The Berlin Wall Is Unlike Anyone You Ve Met BeforeWhen Molly Gets A Package Leading Her To Pepper, They Re Tasked With Solving A Decades Old Mystery Find Out Who Killed Ava, Back InUsing Ava S Diary For Clues, Molly And Pepper Realize There S To Her Life And Death Than Meets The Eye Someone Is Lying To Them And Someone Out There Is Guiding Them Along, Desperate For Answers Uuummmmm.I am an indisputable fan of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly as is evidenced by my review of it.But, The Arsonist is, well, it s caca.I have no other way of describing it I can t even point the genre in which this book belongs to The book is convoluted, scattered, idiotic and simply plain boorish. So after finishing the amazingness that was Minnow BlyI NEED THIS. NOTE This review is based on an Advanced Reading Copy and contains no deliberate spoilers From now on, any time I hear somebody claim that YA is not complex, thoughtful or literary I am going to smack them about the head and shoulders with a copy of this book THE ARSONIST is literary in all the best senses of the word Smart, searching, inventive, beautifully written and characterized, funny as in genuinely, unexpectedly witty and sometimes straight up hilarious, especially the sections narrated by Pepper , poignant, multilayered and fascinating It deals with big, serious themes but doesn t get bogged down by them it believably touches on all the standard facets of adolescent life school, friends, romance without limiting itself it s a gripping Cold War drama and a psychological study or several and a daring adventure and a murder mystery thriller all at once without any of those elements feeling shortchanged in the process If this weren t enough, Stephanie Oakes manages the virtuoso feat of creating not one, not even two, but three distinct first person narrators whose voices and personalities are completely different from one another, and each of whom has an equally interesting story to tell.If that weren t enough to recommend the book, Ibrahim Pepper Al Yusef has now become one of my favorite adolescent boy characters of all time Trust me on this one Also, his dog is hilarious I would particularly recommend this book to high school teachers looking for strong, multifaceted teen fiction with a historical component agh, the 1980 s are history now I feel so old , big themes, and lots of scope for analysis and discussion If I had to give a content warning I d advise that there s the occasional bit of crude adolescent boy type humour, a few swear words, and a couple of graphic descriptions of violence, but none of it was pervasive or worse than many other books teens are usually given to read in high school if anything it s probably better.N.B For those interested in diversity, Molly is strongly implied to be asexual Pepper is Kuwaiti Arab and has a service dog for his epileptic seizures and there are several sympathetic and non stereotypical characters with mental illnesses. This review was originally posted at Dual ReadsARC received for an honest review I went into The Arsonist pretty much blind All I knew was that it was about a girl whose father was imprisoned for arson I knew nothing of Ava s viewpoint or Pepper s or just how emotionally intense this book would wind up being The Arsonist is the sort of book that consumes you The difference from first page to last wasn t just character growth I feel different too And I love when a book can do that This wasn t a quick read at all It s a fairly long book and the intensity of it meant that I put it down a few times to breathe But it was an experience of a book And those are one of my favourite kinds.In The Arsonist you read from three different perspectives I struggle to pick a favourite to read from because they were all excellent and distinctive but I definitely related a lot to Ava I ve never been in her situation obviously, but her character and her beliefs and her actions resonated so strongly with me and I absolutely adored her sections I admired Molly and Pepper in a different way They were both so unique and so brave in their own ways and it broke my heart a little every time they had to go through something awful There were a couple of scenes where I had a lump in my throat the kind where it s too sad even to cry.The central mystery I found very compelling True the Who killed Ava mystery was relatively clear but it was so exciting and interesting to watch the connections fall together It felt a little like one of those crime maps on TV with all the pins and string I was adding every clue to that board inside my head all the way through and by the end it felt so satisfying and complete to have all the connections make sense And there were plenty of things, even towards the end, that took me by surprise I mentioned that this isn t a one sitting kind of read and I will admit that once I had put this book down it took me a while to pick back up The truth being that at times it just felt too heavy for my brain So this probably isn t the book to choose when you re in a reading slump It is however, a book I think you should definitely read It taught me and changed me and emotionally tore me apart and I am so grateful that I had the chance to read it. 2.5 stars What an odd book Usually I m a fan of eccentric titles but unfortunately I had to suspend too much disbelief to really enjoy absorb the story We are introduced to 3 individuals who, on the surface, seem to have nothing in common We have Molly, who s father is currently on death row awaiting execution for the murder of six people She is also holding onto the hope that she mother will reappear after her disappearance years ago, yet there is no evidence that this will ever happen, other than a teenager s sheer determination faith that it will This leads to her meeting Pepper, a Kuwaiti immigrant who lost his mother to an oil fire Pepper lives with his father, who is grieving this loss heavily with collecting fish in the sense it will make her proud of him Pepper does not how to be himself is having a difficult time at school, ultimately dropping out with the arrangement of writing essays for his teacher Molly Pepper meet when Molly is sent a book titled The Arsonist with a photo of Pepper the message that he has the answers The Arsonist is about the life of Ava, an East German teenager who fights to destroy the Berlin Wall Sadly, her murder accomplishes this but her murder is still unsolved Molly Pepper set out to discover Ava s killer as Molly feels that this is a message from her mother, that she must find the answer in order to get her mother back They end up getting sent a pair of tickets to Berlin head off to solve the case A pair of teens can decide to go to another country just like that Hmm convenient Along the way, a bunch of twists turns happen all while the execution date for Molly s father is fast approachingThere are a lot of factors in here that I liked in theory, including each teen s desperate escape from reality as Pepper asks Why do they parents make us carry their burdens , brings up the harsh truth of the damage parents inadvertently can cause I wish Oakes had putemphasis on the execution the prison system itself, but I m aware that wasn t her intention for ARSONIST The Cold War concept was fascinating probably my favorite aspect of the book I liked learning about Ava looking back on it, I think a separate title all from her side would make an interesting novel all on its own It got to be too much of a stretch for me when adding Molly Pepper to the mix how their worlds all somehow intertwine together Too much convenience trying too hard to make the pieces of a puzzle fit While it didn t work for me, I can definitely see this appealing to those who enjoy mysteries with a bit of historical fiction. I CAN T WAIT. Great writing but an overwrought plot The story takes place in the present day, mainly in the California town of Monterey Pepper is a very endearing Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy and a service dog Molly has anger management issues and lives with her aunt and unstable cousin Margaret after her mother s suicide and father s imprisonment for arson Pepper s POV is conveyed through essays to his teacher, Molly s through a confessional of sorts to her friend Pepper, and then there s Ava, whose story is revealed through diary entries dated during the end of the Cold War THE ARSONIST has so many strong elements too many Reading it feels like simultaneously trying to eat too many foods that each has a separate and distinct flavor Your taste buds get confused, and the spices and textures don t sit right in your stomach There s lots of fabulous writing, though Here are some of the best linesthe glass of storefronts passing her warped image around like a ghost s Maybe another person would break down right now, but my veins are filled with Novocain She would tell me to never change for anyone, because the people you change for are the people who control you I cry memories I don t know what words I m even speaking, probably not even English but some invented language of grief. Very interesting and has some good twists and turns Love how the story came together throughout Was a little slow for about the first half but overall it was entertaining Overall, I good mystery and it has diary entries I love books with letters, diary or journal entries Adds so much to a story I have been waiting what feels like forever to read this book Last year I fell head over heels for The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly and immediately added The Arsonist to by TBR I was super lucky to get my hands on an ARC of this at YALC and was thrilled as it wasn t a book I was expecting to see there Nevertheless, I have finally read it and I was absolutely blown away by how gorgeous it was The Arsonist was nothing like I expected it to be I ll be honest and say that I hadn t really read the blurb as I knew I wanted this book regardless of what it was about because I loved Oakes writing so much in her debut This is such a gorgeous story of finding yourself and friendship and it is written in the most beautiful way By the end of the book I had tears pouring down my face because I was just so attached to the characters and it really mattered to me what happened next I did foresee where the story would lead but I certainly did not make the connections in the way they were actually made in the book and they were so well woven together.The story is told from three perspectives and Stephanie Oakes has done a marvellous job at creating three unique voices and somehow managing to weave all of their stories together Even many of the secondary characters were somehow woven into the bigger picture and it all seems so effortless by the end I rarely write physical notes whilst reading but after every few chapters of this book I found myself theorising and writing down how Molly, Pepper and Ava could be connected On many of those pages after my notes, I ve just written WHAT For once I actually really enjoyed feeling quite lost in the story and not being 100% aware of what the connections were, it meant I really had to get to know the characters and I grew to love them quickly It may not have the quickest plot but as someone who lives for well written characters, this book was marvellous In fact, I read the whole thing in 24 hours and at 496 pages that is saying quite something A bit about our characters but don t worry, there will be no spoilers from me Molly Mavity is the daughter of the Arsonist, her father has committed terrible crimes and is sentenced to death on death row Her mother committed suicide several years ago but Molly refuses to believe this and thinks her mother is still out there somewhere Molly is an outsider and I love her for that She doesn t want to fit it, she just wants to be herself and if that means she is a bit of a loner then so be it Molly is so determined and curious about everything and I really valued those traits in her I loved her journey and development throughout the book and although her story is tainted with huge sadness, Molly comes out on top.Pepper is just an absolute sweetheart We read his POV through a series of essays he has to write in order to graduate high school Pepper lives with his father, a fisherman, after they moved to the US from Kuwait, where his mother died shortly after giving birth to him He is epileptic and has a seizure dog called Bertrand, who appears to be pretty useless but is a great companion nonetheless I loved Pepper s humour and he provided some of the best laugh out loud moments of the book Pepper s life changes rather drastically when Molly comes crashing into it, but why have they been brought together Ava Dreyman provides our third POV through a series of diary entries, think Anne Frank style Ava is a young girl living in East Berlin during the 1980s and we see her many struggles with the system, love and family I really enjoyed reading her diary entries as they were interesting and informative but the whole time I was reading them I couldn t help but try and figure out what the connection was It becomes slightly clearer towards the end but even these diary entries come with their own sets of twists and turns.Each chapter peels back a layer from the relevant character and brings you a step closer to revealing the truth I couldn t pick a favourite POV to read from as each had their own endearing quality to them What I can say is that these characters are exceptionally well written and it doesn t take long to build a connection with them The question you will want answered is how are they connected to each other The Arsonist is a magnificent read, it is beautifully written and will keep you interested and intrigued right up until the end.