Playing for the Devil’s Fire by Phillippe Diederich | SLJ Audio Review

redstarDIEDERICH, Phillippe. Playing for the Devil’s Fire. 7 CDs. 8:14 hrs. Listening Library. Jan. 2017. $45. ISBN 9781524723842. digital download.

STAR-AU-Diederich-PlayingfortheDevilsFireGr 7 Up Izayoc is an idyllic Mexican pueblo where 13-year-old Boli and his friends spend time ogling the girls, shining shoes to earn money, watching the luchadores (the wrestlers), and playing marbles in the hopes of winning the much-coveted “Devil’s Fire” marble. The new highway, however, has opened the town up to dangerous people. Body parts appear, and locals disappear. Boli’s parents report some trouble and soon vanish. With Boli’s world crumbling around him and gangs taking over the town, nobody is safe. His only hope is a flawed, down-on-his-luck luchador who sees his better self reflected in the boy’s eyes. This gritty, grim audiobook is performed by Ozzie Rodriguez, whose rich, Spanish-accented voice adds authenticity and emotion to the story. This is not a tale for the fainthearted, but it provides insight into the disintegrating lives of the characters as their world blows away. VERDICT This audio adaptation brings a powerful and significant novel, aimed firmly at a young adult audience, to life. Librarians should note that the book contains strong language. [“A compelling yet horrifying read that will resonate with murder-mystery and thriller fans”: SLJ 3/16 review of the Cinco Puntos book.]–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2017 issue.

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