Author: TM Goeglein
Genre: YA contemporary, paranormal, mafia, thriller, urban fantasy, AWESOME, NIGHTMARE STAG OH GOD
Publication Date: August 20, 2013 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them.
While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max–who’s now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who’ve shown her her mother’s amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who’s just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.
☆: 5 stars – an absolute knock out of the park, and better than book one!
Review: WOW. What is it with you, sophomoric books of 2013? You’ve all been more or less amazing, if not really good. If you guys thought “Cold Fury” was good, just wait until you get your hands on “Flicker & Burn”! Seriously. Every bit of tension that Goeglein had in “Cold Fury”, every stake? It’s been upped about a hundred times. This book has turned from paranormal into parascience, which is awesome, and I really can’t wait for book three. Another one of my favorite sophomoric effort of 2013, “Flicker & Burn” definitely leaps off the page and sears itself into your brain. Let’s just say I’ll never look at “healthy” ice cream the same way again.
Three words for you guys: Ice. Cream. Demons. Well, they’re not exactly demons (I won’t reveal exactly what they are, as that would ruin an entire section of the book for you), but they sure as hell act like them. Picking up pretty much from where we left off in book one, this book just kind of launches itself from page one and it’s a crazy, bumpy, and at times, scary ride all the way until the final page. Goeglein is doing something right, because I love Sarah Jane all the more in this book, and I wanted to know all of the mysteries that do get some answers (in some form or another – one in a VERY creative way at the end of this book), and some are saved for book three. It was really satisfying to get those answers, and the way Goeglein approached them was great. There’s a lot of bait and switch with this one – just when we think we know the answer to one of the questions left by the Volta notebook, nope. We get taken on another wild ride to get to its true answer.
In this book, we don’t get too many new characters – only three or four. Which was nice – many sequels get a lot of new characters in, and while that can be useful for worldbuilding, sometimes that obscures the main cast’s original series plot target or purpose that was set in book one. Here, it feels like the original plot target is clearer than ever with this handful of new characters, as they all weave into the greater plot of the Cold Fury phenomenon. We also get a lot of backstory and answers into the characters of book one that aren’t around in book two, and we also get a general look at the history of the Outfit, as well as how that ties into the diabolical fiends that Mister Kreamy Kone is setting loose on the streets of Chicago, aiming for Sarah Jane. There’s no infodumping – all of the information we do get is spaced out really well, and from various characters we’ve either met in book one, or have heard about in book two. Sarah Jane does a lot of investigation work, but doesn’t infodump herself. That was a good route for Goeglein to take, because it really felt like Sarah Jane was really figuring things out the same time the audience was. And I like that kind of synchronicity – it feels kinda rare in YA as of late, so that’s definitely a plus.
There are a lot of questions raised in this book with Sarah Jane’s character – what am I? Who am I – especially without my (immediate) family? Can I ever, in good conscience, go back into the civilian world and lead a quiet life with everything that I’ve done and seen? While some would say there’s a lot of navelgazing going on in this book, for Sara Jane’s character, it’s important. In this book, she has to decide who she is, so that she can go forward with not only trying to find where her family’s been hidden, but also with her own questions of what the Cold Fury really is. While the latter question is helped by new character cousin Heather, the rest is pure Sara Jane trying to figure things out. But not without cost – she loses Max, she loses Doug, and she almost loses herself in the need for revenge. And I love it when characters take that kind of turn in their journey arcs – toward darkness, all the while trying to struggle to stay out of it.
Finally, there’s the matter of parascience that gets approached in this book – I won’t spoil much, but let’s just say that the Cold Fury is now no longer purely paranormal in origin. (To be clear, parascience = paranormal + real science.) Which I absolutely adored – it reminded me a bit of “The X-Files” in that way. MKK’s henchmen and all of the answers that lie in wait to be discovered in the Volta notebook all tie into this transformation of paranormal to parascience, and I loved how detailed and well-thought out this part of the plot is.
Final verdict? To quote Dominic Monaghan, “badasses like to hang out with other badasses”, and Sara Jane is no exception. There’s tension on every single page, and I’m not exaggerating. I seriously can’t wait until book three now. “Flicker & Burn” is out August 20, 2013 from Penguin in North America, so DEFINITELY check it out when you get the chance!