'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 7 February 2015

Review: Inner Fire

Corinne Peterson has a rare genetic disorder which causes her skin to burn when she experiences strong emotion. When her best friend is assaulted, Corinne can’t help but react with anger and the result is disastrous.

With community surveillance at an all-time high thanks to the new SecurEyes camera network, it is impossible for Corinne and her family to hide her disorder. Corinne’s grandmother comes to town to help, but the appearance of mysterious men in suits stalking Corinne result in Gran taking Corinne to her home in the English countryside, far from strangers who can hide in crowds and the all-seeing SecurEyes cameras.

Can Corinne come to terms with her disorder and learn to better control her emotions? Why is Gran so secretive and wary of the surveillance cameras and other technology? Corinne has some pretty big issues to deal with and now that she’s living with Gran, she has the added distraction of her new neighbour, gorgeous eighteen-year-old Rowan. Corinne isn’t sure she can handle any more complications, but she might not get a choice.

Inner Fire is a suspense-filled young adult novel by New Zealand author Rachel Stedman. The novel contains some interesting and topical themes related to the use of technology and the ethics of surveillance, and the concept of Corinne’s genetic disorder, malignant hyperpyrexia, is quite fascinating.

The central characters of the novel are Corinne, her grandmother and Rowan. Corinne is a realistically complex teen, at times quite self-absorbed and self-indulgent, and at other times keenly interested in what is happening around her. Gran is an intriguing character with a back story only partly revealed throughout the action of the novel. I could easily envisage another book in this series where readers get to learn more about the experiences that have shaped Gran’s personality.

Gran brings an element of humour to the story that provides a nice balance to the more sinister themes.

The relationship between Corinne and Rowan did develop a little too quickly for me as a reader, even taking into account Corinne’s emotional turmoil and an excess of teenage hormones. Rowan has his own complicated back story that felt more like a distraction than a relevant sub-plot.

While I really enjoyed reading this novel, it did leave me with several unanswered questions. I want to know more about Gran, Corinne’s parents and the general family dynamic. Corinne comes to terms with the impact of her disorder in the final pages of the story and I would be interested to see how her character develops now that she has a clearer sense of her own identity and the personal consequences of the malignant hyperpyrexia.

Overall, I found Inner Fire to be an interesting and suspenseful story and I hope that the author pursues some of the storylines in future novels.

It is worth noting that the book contains coarse language and sexual references, including references to rape. As a result, it is best suited to slightly older teen readers.

Title: Inner Fire
Author: R L Stedman
Publisher: Waverley Productions, $21.99 RRP
Publication Date: December 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780473294427
For ages: 15+
Type: Young Adult