A few thoughts on ‘Fire Seekers’ reviews

It’s fascinating.

Some reviewers have said “The Fire Seekers” is great YA sci-fi. Others (including some who obviously enjoyed the book) have said, well, it’s not exactly typical YA, and it’s not really sci-fi either. One (I particularly liked this) described it as more “Dan Brown meets Umberto Eco.” I know there will always be some readers for whom “not what I expected” is a negative; but for me, as a writer, it’s a thrilling sign of success, and a huge affirmation, when a reader both likes the book and sees that it doesn’t fit a neat genre pigeonhole.

As for the style, some love the surprise ending, some don’t; some think too much is left unexplained, and some think too much is explained. Some think Daniel is implausibly super-hero-ish, and others think he’s just fine…

None of these reactions surprises me, and none is right or wrong! On the matter of “sci-fi”: I guess a better label is “speculative fiction,” even though I’m not sure how to draw that distinction exactly; things will get a little more sci-fi as we go along, but the theme is more “What can we know, and what could be true?” than “What are we capable of?” On Daniel being implausibly talented: yeah, I kind of agree. But look: you can write about teens who shape-shift or fly through walls, if you help yourself to an alternative universe; I wanted to set this is the real world, for very specific reasons. (In short: the puzzles I’m developing are puzzles about the world you’re in right now.) So I wanted to find ways of making Daniel and his friends deal with an embodiment of those puzzles, and that meant, um, stretching them a bit.

A couple of readers complained that it’s implausible Iona is a great climber. How so? Is it (he asked, snarkily) because she’s also a mathematician, a successful business woman, and… a Mom? Hey, there really are great climbers out there, and some of them are women – it’s a known phenomenon! As for Daniel being good at karate, climbing, and running – excuse me, people, but I *know* those teens! OK, yes, so climbing the Torre Sur in the winter is a stretch, and so is the helicopter piloting… but that stretching is sometimes too much fun to resist.

Thanks to everyone, again. Even those “meh” reviews – really. It’s so interesting to know how different readers react, and why. Lots of food for thought while I work on Book Two…