Blaze by Hope Bolinger

The Synopsis:

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t walk into the fire.
Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day. 

To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town’s prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich “in crowd.” 

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the “popular and pretty” table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire. 

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

Review:

Modern day retellings of Bible stories are growing in popularity amidst the Christian fiction genre, and honestly, I really love the concept of studying a Bible story and reapplying it to something we can understand better today.

Blaze is a young adult, contemporary retelling of Daniel and his friends during their captivity in Babylon. The book of Daniel has many popular Bible stories, so I was curious to see how the author brought those into modern day culture. As it turns out, the author was genius in recognizing “high school” as a fantastic substitute for “Babylon” in this instance, and I was very pleased with how Blaze connected the dots of Daniel and Danny’s stories.

The characters were really well done and I loved their modern day names! Danny, Hannah, Michelle, and Rayah were a strong group and a really good example of how friends should stick together even amidst the flames of bad situations.

However, there are a few reasons that my rating of Blaze will only be 2 stars. The biggest issue to me was that a lot of the high school atmosphere felt very forced. And what I mean by that, is there was just a LOT of stereotypes crammed into each scene that it was almost unrealistic and most of it felt unnatural for many of the character’s personalities. The characters themselves were absolutely excellent, like I mentioned before, but it felt to me like many of their actions in the day-to-day living scenes just grabbed the closest “teen stereotype” to them and rolled with it without actually considering that particular character’s personality, like the constant use of SnapChat, gum smacking, music taste, etc.

There were also a lot of teen pop culture references that were so incredibly dramatized to emphasize the “Babylonian pagan culture” from the Bible, (for example, song lyrics, movies, etc.) that any reader who did not grow up in a Christian home where music from Taylor Swift was banned, would probably roll their eyes at these mentions. So unfortunately, I don’t see very many non-Christian readers picking this book up and enjoying it.

I hate leaving reviews on a bad note so I’d like to re-emphasize my praise of how well Danny’s story reimagined Daniel’s from the Bible and how unique and well-done the characters were. I really did love that aspect of the book, but because YA Contemporary is one of my favorite genres, I have incredibly high standards for these books and I know my followers do as well. So overall, I am only inclined to give Blaze 2 out of 5 stars, though I would be willing to give this author another chance in the future because her story plotting talents are immensely promising. So if you are a fan of Christian fiction, your opinions may differ from mine so I’d encourage you to at least give Blaze a try and then come back and let me know what you thought!

Goodreads | Amazon (Pre order until June 3,2019)

Rated:

Rayleigh is a Sophomore in college with a major in Accounting and long-term goal of being a CPA. She is an avid reader of all genres, and just as much of her time is spent writing as it is reading. She is the Associate Editor and Web Manager for PURSUE Magazine, in addition to posting her monthly articles on their blog. Rayleigh interns for Hartline Literary Agency where she advises authors in the best way to market their books. She is also a Social Media Manager for various businesses.

Her writing pseudonym is Rae Leigh and she is in the process of seeking publication for her Dystopian novella, Program MIRA.