Carnegie Longlist 2016 · Carnegie Nominations 2016 · Carnegie Shortlist 2016

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

From the mind of award-winning author Jenny Valentine, Fire Colour One is a vibrant and thought-provoking novel.  It tells the tale of teenager Iris and how she discovers that her estranged biological father Ernest is in fact nearing the end of his life.  While in the company of her incorrigible mother and stepfather, Iris struggles as she tries to build a relationship with Ernest in the short time that they have left together.

The novel seems to depict Iris as an isolated character. Amidst the news of her father, she also deals with the alienation of her best friend, all while fighting moral battles with her mother.  It often seems that Iris is having to endure role reversal and ‘play the parent’ to her selfish and greedy mother.  I feel that it is very much a comment on the differences in values between the two characters; one can see only the financial value in art, whereas the other can appreciate its beauty, meaning.  This ties in so nicely with both its title and main theme, and I love how this concept flows so seamlessly throughout the novel.

Throughout the story, Valentine touches upon various issues that I for one haven’t often come across in other Young Adult literature.  Iris’ background in arson and pyromania works well against the artistic backdrop that is implied by Fire Colour One.  The title is in fact pertaining to the work (FC1) of artist Yves Klein, which the artist himself explains is trying to portray how “in the heart of the void as well as in the heart of man, fires are burning”. (

Reviewed by Tiff

One thought on “Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

  1. I enjoyed reading this book, but it didn’t capture my imagination in the same way that some of the other shortlisted titles did. I felt the characters were a bit too black and white sometimes: the mother didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities, and Iris, despite her arsonist tendencies, was portrayed as always occupying the moral high ground. I liked Ernest the best. He was a great character and full of surprises.


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