Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…
Blaze has a crush on soccer superstar Mark and she’s finally decided to make him notice her. Blaze ignores continual warnings about Mark’s dating past and welcomes his attention. But when that attention starts to fade, Blaze’s friend jokingly sends Mark a picture of Blaze in nothing but lingerie. Not surprisingly, Mark is a huge fan, but after their next date, Mark is done with Blaze. Feeling betrayed, Blaze writes and publishes a comic starring Mark the Shark as the villain. Embarrassed and angry, Mark retaliates by going public with Blaze’s sexy picture. Now, everyone is judging Blaze, calling her names behind her back and to her face. And Blaze would give anything to travel back in time.
Blaze is not at all what I expected. I expected a more comic book-driven/hero vs villain style story. My favorite parts in the story are, without a doubt, the specific references to comics and the world of comic books that Blaze throws herself into. I appreciate her talent and creativity when it comes to writing her own comics. These are the strongest parts of the book, for me.
My problem with Blaze, though, is that I find most of it entirely unrealistic. The first few chapters are fun, promising, and engaging. The game of “Cows” is a cute quirk that I want to play myself. I’m on-board all the way up until Blaze dates Mark. But afterward…first, I can’t see a guy like Mark getting that upset and embarrassed over Blaze’s comic. He’s an asshole and he knows it, so I think he’d be willing to cut Blaze a little slack. Plus, the comic means he gets attention. I can’t imagine that a egotist like Mark doesn’t appreciate attention, even if it’s negative.
Second, there’s the whole issue of the “sext.” Racy pics like these constitute as child pornography. End of story. Our generation is well aware of this and I can’t see Mark justifying seriously breaking the law in order to exact a bit of revenge. But even if he did–consequences be damned!–Blaze (or, you know, anyone in the entire school) could immediately go to the police and have the picture taken down. Ok, fine, maybe she’s too afraid to bring it up to her mom and doesn’t want to involve the police. But the school finds out. Including the principal. At this point, this “sext” would be a major issue. And yet everyone’s fine with treating the incident as a minor case of bullying. No. Just, no.
Third, the way the student body suddenly turns on Blaze rings as completely unbelievable to me. Whispers behind backs, judgments, some catty behavior. All that, I’d believe. But the random students coming up to Blaze just to insult/threaten/shame her? Students that don’t know Blaze or Mark? I’m sorry, but I find that very hard to swallow. Perhaps I just got lucky in high school and this is the way students at every other high school in the world act. But at my school, a group of people would never so openly haze and bully a person they don’t know. And if something like this were to occur, someone would definitely get involved, be it another student, a teacher, or an administrative official.
Last, I had a problem with the secondary characters; they lack depth and development. Blaze’s best friends are catty, shallow, and disloyal. It’s hard to understand the intense attraction to Mark. What are his good qualities, again? Comic Book Guy is woefully, abysmally underdeveloped. As one of the only positive characters in the novel, I feel like he deserves way more attention and a solid conclusion. Blaze’s relationship with her father feels unfulfilled. The only well-developed secondary characters are Blaze’s little brother and his friends. They deliver laughs and a warm, fuzzy feeling.
I’m not a huge fan of the ending. Again, I find the logistics unrealistic. It is near-impossible to get into Comic-Con at the last minute. I mean, I love the idea of Blaze going to Comic-Con. I think it’s a great, fun setting to play around with. But I don’t believe that Blaze (or her brother and co.) could get in so easily. However, I do love Josh’s heroism. He steals the show and gives the ending a bit of a boost. The very end lacks resolution for Blaze and her life from here-on-out, unfortunately. I am left feeling dissatisfied with the book. That being said, it is a light, quick read with a lot of fun elements. The first half of the book is definitely enjoyable and the comic allusions aren’t hardcore enough to go over anyone’s head.
Publication Date: April 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating [rating: 2.5]