Firebird Alex: Who is Alex?
By Orren Merton
Any novel rises and falls by its protagonist—especially in fantasy and young adult/near adult, which very often either focus completely, or are in the voice of, the main character. Firebird Alex is no exception—the book is told from the point of view of eighteen-year-old Alexandra Gold. So who is she?
At its most basic, Alex is a young half-human, half-demon girl. Alex learned she was a demon when she was twelve years old. She got angry, and her hair and eyes burst into flame, and everything she touched ignited. After nearly burning down her house, her mother told her about her father, and Alex retreated into a world of shame and doubt.
When we first meet Alex, she’s eighteen and living alone in the condominium she shared with her recently deceased mother. She shuns everyone except her beloved childhood rabbi, the only other person in the world who knew her secret. He slowly convinces her to engage with the world. He introduces her to his beloved foster daughter, Rachel, tries to set her up with a caring nineteen year old college student, Jake, and even encourages her to find out more about her father.
All this suits Alex. She is a bright, funny girl, her mother having been a published poet. She still doesn’t feel human or normal, but it feels good to get into the light again. She even helps with some investigations that her rabbi and new friend Jake are involved with.
When those crimes lead to her father’s universe, she’s left with character-defining choices. Who is she—her mother’s “little firebird,” a hero in the making with power over fire, or is she a demon, a threat to everyone she knows? And does she dare confront her father? Does she need him more than she’s afraid of him?
Firebird Alex is many things: an origin story, a crime story, a novel that invents an entire mythology, a parallel universe fantasy. But at its heart, it is a story about a girl who is in the process of becoming—and what it is she chooses to become.