Review: Every Inferno by Johanna Parkhurst

Depressed. Defiant. Possible alcoholic. These are just a few of the terms used to describe fifteen-year-old Jacob Jasper Jones. Lately, though, JJ has a new one to add to the list: detective. He’s been having strange dreams about the fire that killed his parents ten years ago, and he thinks he finally has the clue to catching the arsonist who destroyed his family.

A murder investigation isn’t the only thing the dreams trigger for JJ. They also lead to secret meetings with his estranged sister, an unlikely connection with a doctor who lost his daughter in the fire, and a confusing friendship with McKinley, a classmate of JJ’s who seems determined to help him solve the mystery.

All JJ wants is to shake the problems that have followed him since that fire, and he’s convinced he must catch the arsonist to do it. But as JJ struggles to find the culprit, he sees there’s more than one mystery in his life he needs to solve.

Earlier in the year I read Here's to You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst and I really enjoyed it, so when a request came in to the blog for her new novel, Every Inferno, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I was not disappointed.

Every Inferno is a YA novel and it is YA, not NA with younger characters. It follows the character of JJ in his fifteenth year. As a five year old JJ was involved in a fire that killed his parents, a fire of which the arsonist has never been found. The fire has defined JJ's life so far - he has been separated from his sister because of it, he drinks to block out memories of it, he feels he is always failing the parents he never really got to know - and he blames himself for their deaths.

His English writing class at school is the one place he feels happy, though he refuses to share his stuff with the class. McKinley is the popular , out, high school student who is hired to coach JJ's sister, the sister her adoptive mother has banned him from seeing. Events work out so that McKinley and JJ end up spending time together.

Through his friendship with McKinley and Dr Ben (the man who pulled him from the fire many years before) JJ starts to pull his life together. Through the course of the story we follow JJ as he investigates the fire and tries to find the arsonist who took his family for him. We watch him realise his growing feelings for McKinley are more than those of just a friend. And we see his journey through the years.

This book is so good. If you like YA then Johanna Parkhurst is a great - no FABULOUS - author to read. It's the kind of book (and I've said this before) that shouldn't be stuck away in the MM genre, it should be on YA shelves alongside Judy Blume, John Green, Stephen Chobsky and the such like. I love her characters, the hurt and defiance of JJ is so real. All the characters are real, even Dr Ben and Aunt Maggie 'the good guys', they are fully rounded people not carbon copy good.

The mystery storyline was capturing and I loved how the various relationships in JJ's life were dealt with - particularly the developing friends to more relationship with McKinley. I just loved this book, I couldn't put it down and know that Johanna Parkhurst is most definitely an author I'm keeping my eye on. I can't wait to read her next release.

Every Inferno is available to buy from July 24th 2014

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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