Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Burn for Burn, by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian @jennyhan @siobhanvivian

Burn for Burn is full of teenage angst, friends and enemies, and ultimately, revenge.

The first half of Burn for Burn introduces a group of students attending a high school on Jar Island. This island is only accessible by ferry. This is a book about three girls getting revenge on some other teens who they perceive as having wronged them, but we don't really get to the revenge plotting until the second half of the book. That's OK in this case, because the slow exposition of these characters really allows us to know them very well, and therefore we can sympathize with these three teens, as well as their victims.

For me, there was too much wining, complaining, fighting, scheming, and drama. It's just one thing after the other.  But I'm far from a teen, and while this group may be a bit over the top, I'm sure at times it is much like this for the teens at the school where I teach.

It took me a while to get the rhythm of the story. The three different POVs were confusing at first. I hope in the finished copy of the book there is some indication at the beginning of the chapters as to who the narrator is. A lot of characters are introduced very quickly. Some of the names were confusing to me. There are a few that are not gender specific, so I had trouble remembering, "boy or girl?" Then they called some characters by their last names at times. I couldn't figure out who "Lindy" was. Sounds like a girl, right? But then I realized Alex's (a boy) last name is "Lind" so that was his nick name. Once I got to know the characters' personalities better, I was OK, but at first I was scrambling a bit to make sense.

There's just a bit of a paranormal ability introduced in one of the characters. It seemed like the only purpose was to assist in the climactic ending. They had to have some way to make things happen, so they decided, "we'll just use this paranormal thing." It didn't bother me that much, but just felt kind of "added," and not very purposeful.

Despite the previous paragraphs, I enjoyed Burn for Burn. I thought the acts of revenge were realistic and I really had mixed feelings about who to care for. Teens make mistakes, and I didn't really want to see them hurt, but on the other hand, some of the things they did were really despicable. But, not ALL of the things. So Burn for Burn really gets you thinking about justice and just when is revenge going to far? It makes you think about the assumptions we make about people, and how sometimes with more information those assumptions are revealed to be incorrect.

I liked that three very different girls banded together and stayed together to help each other. These girls were not friends, they were either enemies or didn't know each other at all. I thought that made their partnership even more interesting.

The writing was easy to follow (other than the problems I mentioned above) and like I said, I felt like I really got to know these characters -- even some of the minor ones.

OK. Now for my last gripe. You're really gonna end it like THAT!!!  I felt like I was watching a soap opera --"Tune in tomorrow" -- except it's not going to be tomorrow. It's going to be next year! I feel like Han & Vivian must have reached their publisher's deadline and decided, "OK, we'll just end it here." You don't have to write huge cliff hangers to get people to read the next book. If your first book is good, they will want to read more about the characters. As a matter of fact, I can name several series that I have not gone past the first book because the cliffhanger ending made me so angry. This might be one of those series.

I have no problem recommending Burn for Burn to my teens. It's a quick read -- I was reading the eARC and am really surprised that the book is over 350 pages. It read a lot more quickly than that.  I think teens will enjoy Burn for Burn, as they have enjoyed other works by Han & Vivian. I'll warn them about the ending, though...

Published by Simon & Schuster, September 18, 2012
eARC obtained from NetGalley
368 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5

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  1. Great review. I am really excited to read this book. I like mulitple povs, I do hope they add the name in the finished book. Its nice to have but not if it comes with confusion. I seem to be into these types of books lately, so can't wait.

  2. Oh no. I was really excited to read this book, but I hate non-endings. I handled all of Vivian's POVs in The List, and there were a ton. Hope it's not too much drama for me. I still might check it out!
    Nicely reviewed.

  3. I see we totally agree about the ending, Annette! I was trying to hold off about it but I like how you put it all out there! Awesome review! It makes me so frustrated! There are too many unresolved things! I thought the point of a novel was the have a resolution! Now you've got me all worked up again! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog!


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