August 8 2020

Burn, by Patrick Ness


Burn, by Patrick Ness

Title: Burn
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre/ issues: Alternative history. Fantasy. Racism.

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There’s no doubt that Patrick Ness is a masterful writer. I read his latest book, Burn, today, and there are many dog-eared pages marking passages that I’ll be coming back to and want to savour. I love the premise, too – small-town America, post-WW2 and in the grip of the Soviet suspicion that is a familiar part of our history, but with one (not-so) small difference – thar be dragons. Dragons living peacefully alongside humans, if not always trusted, and occasionally hired for labour.

This is a world in which racism and bigotry still exists. Where homosexuality is considered a sin by some, and kids are kicked out of home because of it. A world in which fanaticism, in the form of a cult of Believers dedicated to dragons, will let nothing get in the way of fulfilling an ancient prophecy. It’s also a world of (slightly spoilery!) multiverses, which ALWAYS appeals to me. I liked the diversity of the characters, and the way they handled being different in a world that sometimes wanted to punish them for that.

But – and it’s a big but – I found the ending kind of rushed and unsatisfying. Whilst I appreciated the narrative, I don’t think there was a whole lot of meaningful character development – at least, none I connected with on any emotional level. And I feel like the final chapters relief a little too much on exposition to wrap things up.
Having said all that, I still rate this book a solid 4/5. Malcolm and Nelson – sigh. I hope things are going well for them, and that they’re old men now, sitting on their porch holding hands and drinking tea. I know a friend read this and was mad that there isn’t going to be a book 2 – I’m ok with that. It’s a solid standalone for me. I don’t need to revisit this world, but I’m quite happy to have spent a Saturday here.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 53/100

Happy reading,




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Posted August 8, 2020 by Tamara Reads in category Book chat, YA Books

About the Author

She/her. On Whadjuk Noongar land. NSWPRC Officer, Teacher Librarian, English teacher and social media advocate. I've been teaching in Western Sydney for my entire teaching career, and love my job more than I love Neil Gaiman. (That's a lot, in case you're wondering!) I stalk authors (but always politely), fangirl over books, and drink coffee. And one of my guilty prides about my children is that they all have favourite authors. All opinions are my own.

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