3. Humor. I can never forgive character flaw so easily as when it's delivered in a funny way. Got snark? "Do you two need to be alone? I'm suffocating on testosterone."
Got a blind girl who makes everybody uncomfortable? She should point out the window and say, "Look, a moose!" then crack up.
2. Wildefire condenses its huge scope & maintains a point-of-view character by using Ashline's visions. The story crosses time and continents, but it never leaves Ashline Wilde's perspective. Through visions, she understands the backstories of her friends and distant dangers heading her way.
1. Knight draws upon a vast number of mythologies, and it creates a sense of the epic in story with relatively narrow scope. To be technical about it, I mean, holy crap. We rediscover the Polynesian stories of Pele, the legends of the Hopi Native Americans and Shintoism, Zulu and Norse gods, Egyptian Isis. Greek mythology's sirens and blind prophets converge with Christianity as a little girl sings hymns about Immanuel. These dominate plot and inform characters, but little references find their ways in all over the story:
"Hello, Pandora's box," when the power goes out.
"'Colt Halliday?' she repeated, but ignored his outstretched hand. 'Sweet name. Isn't there a stagecoach somewhere you should be robbing?'"
In a note:
We knocked for several minutes.... But you did not wake. We leave you now; however, please follow the marshmallow trail to Turtle Rock in the woods when you wake.
J, D, and the Seven Dwarves
And of course, in reference to the emergence of more recent religious mythology:
"This is kind of like a really shitty version of The Breakfast Club, huh?"