Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian



Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.


Quietly thrilling and emotionally intense, Burn for Burn is breathtaking and poignant. Though the ending felt too abrupt for me, there is a strong drive behind this one that will grab readers from page one and refuse to let go. Beautifully weaving together three different stories, and having an almost trainwreck sort of feel to it, Burn for Burn is a stunning exploration of friendship and revenge.

Each girl has her own distinctions, and reasons to be involved in the whole revenge thing. Though individually, each reasons might not necessarily be strong enough, when combined with everything else in each girl’s life, but especially when meshed all together, there is an easy to understand nature to the motivations. From Lillia, who is holding some rough secrets of her own and will do anything to protect her sister from enduring what she has, to Kat who just wants to be left alone from the teasing and jokes, to Mary who has a years old vendetta to settle that drove her to her own breaking point, these girls are individually unsure yet powerful when combined.

There is a slight air of mystery that is infused into this book, centering around not only the specifics for why each girl wants to enact revenge, but also related to those around them, which adds a great element to the book without being the sole driving force. The planning for each step of the revenge plans, and the play out especially, are expertly woven in and handled, building to a powerful climax that will leave readers stunned. More than that, though, what really stands this book out is the way the girls sometimes have moments of second guessing, of being unsure, yet also being almost locked into this deal they’ve made and sense of camaraderie that drives them. It’s painful to read their mindsets at times, but also painful to see the damage they are wreaking. Readers will definitely have their emotions tested to the limits with this one.

The writing is smooth, with a distinct mindset to each girl. Though the voices sometimes felt a little overlapped, that comes off more as simply being the style more than anything else. Each girl’s home life and history are set up and woven into the story, and as things become more intricate, all of this is only intensified. There is a strong pacing, driven by the revenge plot yet also very focused on each of the three girls and how they handle everything. My only real problem with this book is the ending, which felt entirely too sudden, almost like it’s just trying to ensure readers keep going to the next book rather than being a necessarily logical stopping point. Still, apart from this, Burn for Burn is a beautifully scripted, wowing and painful read that will test its readers to the max. There is hints of something supernatural or not quite right in this one, but it’s not at all explored and only shown at a few key points, leaving this book to feel very contemporary. The realism to this one is breathtaking and well thought out, and Burn for Burn is absolutely a book to not be missed.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 368 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18, 2012


  1. I'm so jealous you got to read this early...thanks for the review! I can't wait until it comes out!

  2. A book of girls getting revenge, sounds like something I might enjoy. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm putting it on my tbr list for sure. Great review, aside from the ending, it sounds great!