Firestormby Iris Johansen
~ Goodreads ~
Rating: 2.5 Stars
**Side note on 3/20/2016: This review was written based on a reread of this book.
So here's the problem with some rereads: Sometimes they just don't stand up to what seemed like an enjoyable read from the first time around. Not all rereads are disappointing, but this one certainly was.
I've read other Iris Johansen books before and remember finding them good, riveting, intriguing. And if memory serves, I remember liking Firestorm enough to call it enjoyable when I read it for the first time years ago, sometime during the first few years of college. At least I remembered liking it enough to consider buying and owning the book.
Now I'm wondering what happened. Was it the romantic suspense and the psychic angle that seemed to entice me? I certainly didn't have as many of those books under my belt (and I don't really today, either) when I first read Firestorm. Though I have read a lot of romantic suspense novels and a lot of books in general to form opinions about how I like my stories, my mysteries, and especially my characters and my heroine.
For purposes of entertainment, the book itself was enjoyable enough. But then you get into little details that seem to fail to make sense or that just don't entice me like I had expected. But for the most part, this isn't a bad book, and as a romantic suspense with a paranormal spin, it's decent enough.
I'm going to say that it was the characters that didn't do it for me. At the beginning, I liked Kerry enough, and I thought that Silver was a bit too harsh and a bit too much of an asshole--a manipulative asshole. This was typical, standard hero/heroine dynamics in a romantic suspense and I figured that things would get better as we got to know Silver.
After the second half of the book, however, it was like the two switched places. Silver became more endearing, more relatable... and Kerry turned into a much more irrational, untrusting, bitchy, and hypocritical person. I couldn't help getting angry with this, because typically, I like to like both characters by the end of the book; I don't like to start liking one character only to start getting annoyed with the other. The characters usually start growing on you even if they were annoying to begin with; Kerry just got annoying, period.
And while I understand that Kerry is wary of trust because of what Silver can do, I think she took it too extreme because of her cowardice. She knew what needed to be done to find answers, but she kept being too stubborn about it, refusing to actually acknowledge what she had to do. Then she kept complaining about not making any progress and blaming Silver for anything that went wrong.
She wanted to know who the arsonist who killed her mother was, but she wouldn't admit to being able to find her answer. When Silver tried to help her remember, she got angry at him and told him to quit interfering; except that this was one of the caveats of her helping him find the big baddie in the first place: that he would help her remember the arsonist from her past. She wanted Silver to help her with her psychic abilities, but she wouldn't let her help him in his way. He never lied to her and told her honestly what would happen and how best he could help her, but she made it seem like a betrayal when his way of helping her wasn't what she wanted. And then she complained about lack of progress.
She didn't like the idea of people thinking her a "freak" because of her abilities, but she treated Silver like he was a dishonest monster just because of his abilities. She didn't want to have to use her abilities, but knew she had to learn in order to find the arsonist, but she refused to make it easy for Silver to teach her what she needed to know. At the same time, she's been using her abilities regularly anyway.
She disliked it whenever Silver tried to jump into her mind to help her hurting go away, but when Silver was in his own agony, she did the exact same thing. And apparently that was alright because she couldn't stand feeling his hurt. When Silver tries to help her, she calls it an "intrusion" or him interfering with her own ability to cope.
She keeps saying that Silver is someone who can be trusted, but she keeps questioning whether or not he's leaving posthypnotic suggestions or continuing to manipulate her. You either trust him or you don't. You don't say that you trust him and then continue to not trust him. You can't have it both ways.
There's being a strong, independent person who can take care of himself or herself, then there's paranoid and untrusting and a martyr who feels like she needs to do everything herself. It can either come off as a survival instinct as someone who's always been alone and done everything by herself, which is fine if it makes her seem stronger; but with Kerry, it came off kind of condescending. She questioned everyone else's ability to do their jobs with equal parts scorn and distrust. She went out on a limb to do someone else's job because she didn't trust them to do it right; she tried to play bodyguard when she probably doesn't even have the proper training for it. She keeps saying that, "of course she knows they can be trusted", but she continues to question their integrity and their motive.
Sometimes you need to learn to lean on others for help and trust that some people have their own skills to do what needs to be done. I got tired of her sharp questions that usually came across sounding like, "Are you sure you know what you're doing? Because I know what needs to be done. But do you know what needs to be done?"
It got tiring.
I had a hard time caring for Kerry by the time the ending came into view; although it sure also doesn't excuse the way her own father treated her.
Silver came off looking better than Kerry did, but that doesn't mean he was fun to follow with either. It got tiring trying to skirt around his secrets (even if he was usually honest about what he said or did, omission of the truth is close enough). That was the first half of the book. At the second half of the book, Silver lost his personality and became Kerry's whipping boy, so I felt sorry for him, but I lost interest.
George wasn't bad. That's all I have to say about him because he wasn't really all that memorable either. Nor were any of the other characters; not even Sam, the arson dog.
The book stands alone well as a romantic suspense with standard plot and characters, and if not for the characters in this book, I might have enjoyed it a bit more. Then there was the government plot thing that just got overly complicated, but whatevs.
This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in August 2014.