GIRLS ON FIRE book review

By Kate “One Take Kate” Taylor

Moody & suggestive, Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman takes you to the brink of adulthood seen through the eyes of two disillusioned young women in small town America in the 1990s.

Author of Girls of Fire, Robin Wasserman.

Strongly cinematic, Wasserman is careful to build detailed environments for her deep and believable characters. I’m there inhaling the mossy, dank smell of the teen’s illicit meeting place. I’m blinded by the candy pink aura and agenda of the books’ titular villain character – the quintessential high school mean girl, Nikki Drummond. While our anti-heroes Lacey & Dex navigate their way through the world and unwarily through their own friendship, constantly uncertain on alliances.
Image via

On the outside Girls on Fire is an indulgent spin in the time machine, zapping me back to the height of the grunge phenomena emerging in the ‘slacker’ generation 90s. From Kurt, to flannel, to Doc Marten boots, to MTV‘s Beavis, Butthead and Daria; it was a world that even as tacky and flawed as it is portrayed in Girls on Fire; seemed glamorous to me living in small town New Zealand. Girls on Fire is a whisper of a teenage-hood that is well behind me, but reliving the shames and humiliations along with Nikki, Lacey and Dex as they are thrust upon them, makes it feel not so far away at all.

Lacey‘s icon, Kurt Cobain. Image via

Seething beneath this seemingly picture perfect small town and within the teenage friendship gone wrong plot; there’s a sinister undercurrent of sexual, alcohol & drug experimentation…and murder.
As the teens sulk and move through their murderous actions, the parents in the piece also have chapters dedicated to their viewpoints. Lending a richness and scope to the narrative, as the older folk mirror the actions of the teens with their own remembered “glory days”, rising to the fore of their minds as they witness the blossoming of the young women in their care.

If you love the film Heathers (1988), starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, then it’s likely you’ll enjoy Girls on Fire. Image via

Word to the wise though, this book is incredibly racy. There’s some pretty graphically described sexual encounters between two of the young female characters and there is murder involved; so if you feel as though you’re going to get a feel-good teen romp, then this is not the novel for you. Instead measure it up to film classics like Heathers (1988), Jawbreaker (1999) or American Beauty (1999) and you’ll be ready to learn the secrets revealed, in Girls on Fire.

A photo posted by One Take Kate (@_onetakekate) on

What’s your favourite 90s themed book?


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