“Wildfire” is a Desperate Ride for Survival


Madison Fishback

Wildfire book cover from The Blue Sky Press. The cover shows Sam Castine and Delphy Pappas running from a fire.

As Sam Castine’s summer camp is being evacuated, he runs back to his cabin to find his phone. When returning to the evacuation buses, fire springs up in front of him, forcing him to run away. While he’s running, he meets Delphy Pappas, another camper, in the woods. In a six-day adventure, these kids must outpace the fire to stay alive. “Wildfire” is an adventure/fiction book by Rodman Philbrick.

During the story, Sam’s nature survival tactics help both of them numerous times. The survival tactics are talked about in detail which also helps the readers learn about them. However, it was slightly jarring when Sam was describing how to figure out which direction is North. It didn’t seem to fit the way the book was written. It was written more like it was telling the readers instead of Sam talking with Delphy.

Delphy also brought something to the table that was extremely important to their survival. She brought knowledge of science and physics. When they crashed the Jeep they were driving, and it flipped on its side, she knew they could get it back upright if they used a lever. If she hadn’t been with Sam at that moment, then he wouldn’t have been able to escape the fire.

In a cabin they discovered while driving, they found a radio. The only radio station they could connect to was Phat Freddy’s, who did the morning broadcast for the camps. Freddy’s radio station was on a mountain in the area that was also being surrounded by fire. Sam and Delphy stumble across Freddy’s radio station when the area was about to be consumed by flames, but moments before the fire can overtake the area they pick up Freddy and drive away. To me, there wasn’t any possibility that they might find Freddy. It didn’t seem like they were anywhere near his radio station. However, it was great that they found Freddy, as during their time in the woods, he was the only human link they had.

The cover art for “Wildfire” is dynamic and eye-catching. The foreground being in shadows while the background is lit up with fire adds a sense of urgency. It depicts the fire closing in around them while they try to stay ahead. The cover also shows Delphy being assisted up a steep hill by Sam. It shows they have grown to trust each other and can rely on each other in an intense situation.

With only 224 pages, “Wildfire” is a reasonably quick read. However, there is a surprising amount of detail packed into the pages. While it’s not one of my favorite books, it is a good read nonetheless.