Hmm. I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give this.
On the one hand: What a relief to have a strong main female character no one would describe as "feisty." Ever notice that only harmless creatures are described as feisty? Lions are not feisty unless they're cubs. Ditto bears. Men are *never* feisty. Women and girls? Feisty all the time.
STOP it. If a woman's tough, strong, angry, determined, stubborn, or just plain enjoys kicking ass for the mere sake of it, say so.
There are a lot of not-feisty women in Wildefire. At least two of them think that kicking ass is a fine way to pass a dull afternoon. Several others don't enjoy the task in and of itself, but are quite able to do so when it's called for. Their various supernatural talents are creatively developed.
Okay, and then there's the blind girl. Look, I'm not even blind and *I'm* sick of blind girls who are beautiful and have mystical psychic powers. Oh, and musical talents. Seriously. Can we please have an irritable, non-blonde, cute but not gorgeous blind girl *with short hair* who can't carry a note in a bucket and has, I don't know, ninja skills or something?
Also: there is now an official moratorium on really really skinny girls who can eat anything and/or all the time and Never. Gain. Weight!
Back to the story. This book was a fun, lively read. There was a little too much smirking and a few too many adverbs, but I can live with that. It did bother me that the writer seems more worried at times about creating interesting writing rather than writing an interesting story. "Ignoring the first yawn of soreness in her legs from the morning's workout" is a great phrase. "The rain died to a whimper" isn't. It stops the reader cold. "Wait -- rain doesn't whimper! Does it? Sure, whimpering's quiet; but a whimper is a whiny little noise. Rain can settle down to a hush, but there's nothing hushed about whimpering." (opens up laptop and crowdsources the question to 512 Facebook friends: "Have you ever heard rain whimpering? Click 'like' if you have. Comment 'huh???' if you haven't.") And boom, you've lost your reader because you wanted your words to be exciting. It's the *story* that should excite. Excellent phrases are just a bonus. The Hunger Games trilogy encompasses some of the least-quotable prose in history, and it's a killer read.
On the other hand, there was a *lot* of action in this story, and some genuinely surprising surprises. I loved the fight scenes and the creepy supernatural elements. (And the not-so-creepy supernatural elements.) So full three stars for that.
But I considered dropping that to a two-star "It was okay" because the book had one of those not-quite-endings that are becoming all too common.
Agents and publishers love a first book with "series potential." That's fine. So do readers.
Please notice, though, that the word is "potential."
Where is the reader who really *wants* to finish hundreds of pages and then be told, "I hope you don't mind waiting several months to a year to have all the questions I brought up here answered. I'm worried you won't love me if I give you a full, satisfying story now, so -- see ya!"
The first Hunger Games book really could have stood on its own. The first two Gallagher Girls' books certainly could have -- maybe even the first three. Vampire High was awesome all on its own, and then, hey, look! A sequel! More fun! Weetzie Bat is great and then you read Witch Baby and that's fantastic, too.
There's a difference between series *potential* and insisting that readers had better be prepared to commit to several volumes or live in disappointment -- and not telling them that in so many words, but letting them figure it out on their own on the last page. From now on, publishers have to put a warning label on first books that don't actually end. A cliffhanger in the second or third volume is okay, because the reader has clearly and voluntarily decided to come along for the whole ride. But first books? Tell me everything or get out of my library.