Monday, October 21, 2013

Series Review: Burn for Burn

Burn for Burn
Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
358 pages
Released: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this book?  I had heard great things about it, purchased it, and yet there it sat on my shelf for nearly a year before I picked it up.  Well, I'm so glad I did because Burn for Burn was a fantastic book and the start of a really wonderful series.

Burn for Burn is told from the point of view of three different girls. Lillia and Kat used to be friends in middle school, but drifted apart in high school thanks to their "friend" Rennie.  The third point of view is from Mary, a girl who has switched schools for the school year.  What's fantastic about these alternating points of view is they're diverse - each girl has a different personality and is coming from a different place.  I think Mary's point of view was the most interesting to me because she's the outsider and has such a traumatizing past, but what I really loved was that despite their differences, Lillia and Kat both took Mary under their wings and befriended her.  The three girls are a motley crew, but they have each other's backs.  Love it!

I'm not going to lie, despite the great reviews I had read about this book, I was afraid that Burn for Burn would be a stereotypical novel about high school girls bullying other high school girls.  Far from it, there wasn't much about this book that was stereotypical at all, starting off with Lillia, who was Asian.  I can't remember the last time I read a YA novel with a prominent Asian character and it was refreshing.  Also, much to my relief, Burn for Burn went far beyond the reaches of high school bullying.  We learn a lot about Mary's backstory, for instance, which is centered around her being bullied in middle school, but when the three girls come together, they aren't out to bully back... they're out for revenge.  And so begins their quest to ruin the lives of those who have hurt them the most.

There was one strange part to Burn for Burn though... it read like a contemporary novel straight through the end, but hinted very slightly at the paranormal.  When the book ended I still wasn't sure whether or not it was 100% contemporary.  I really think it could go either way and while I really wouldn't classify Burn for Burn as a horror novel in the least, fans of Carrie will love it, as will contemporary fans who enjoy the occasional book about difficult topics or strong friendships.  Five stars!

Fire with Fire
Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
528 pages
Released: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Source: Little Shop of Stories (Thanks, Kim!)

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Well thank GOODNESS Kim at Little Shop of Stories had supplied me with the advanced reading cop of Fire with Fire, because as soon as I put Burn for Burn down, I picked up Fire with Fire and started reading.  Thankfully, the story picked up right where Burn for Burn left off and I was immediately plummeted back into the story.  I'm going to do my best here to not give away the dramatic ending from Burn for Burn, but be warned this review definitely contain spoilers from Burn for Burn.

So after said dramatic ending, the girls start to question their plans for revenge.  Have they gone too far?   Well, they must not have been too concerned with this since they continue on, focusing more on revenge for Mary, who was taunted by Reeve in middle school.  They come up with the perfect plan for Mary's revenge - since Reeve is in Lillia's group of friends, Lillia will reel him in and trap him in  a fake romance, then dump him in front of everyone so he can experience at least some of the heartbreak that he made Mary feel a few years ago.

Sounds foolproof, right?  Ha!  Things start going wrong all over the place and over the five hundred plus pages, Lillia struggles to capture Reeve's romantic attention and when she does have it they fight frequently.  Will Mary get the revenge she's been dreaming of?  That's all I'm going to say except you really should pick up this series.

Speaking of Mary, at the end of the first book I wasn't sure whether or not there was something paranormal going on with her, but there definitely is and I was surprised to see it happen, but at the same time the book still didn't feel paranormal to me.  It felt just as realistic as the first book.  Mary's powers grow stronger as the book goes on and she's trying to figure out exactly what they are, why she has them, all while dealing with family issues like her increasingly unhinged auth and completely absent parents.  The ending of the book brings a HUGE revelation about Mary.  I was completely and utterly shocked - did not see that one coming and that one moment at the end of book two makes the whole entire thing worth it (not that it wasn't worth it before, bur you know that I mean!)

Four stars!  The book would have gotten five, and it should with that ending, but the book was so long and dragged a little in the middle.  Nevertheless, I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read the next book, Ashes to Ashes, when it comes out next year.  Such a long wait...

Note: as of this post going live, the ebook for Burn for Burn is only $1.99.  It's definitely worth it, I think you should download it now and give it a go.


  1. I loved this book too!! I can't wait to read Fire with Fire... I just got it last week. I am curious how para it's going to go or if its just going to stay on the contemp side. I met these authors last week at a signing and they are so cute and funny!! More people should def read this series!

  2. This sounds awesome - Like a more realistic (maybe) girl power cross between John Tucker Must Die and Mean a book!
    Sounds fantastic and brilliant review. Adding to my TBR pile now!
    Zoë from Zoë's Book Blog

  3. Great reviews. I like this series too. But what's up with the paranormal twist? It doesn't add up.

  4. I really need to read these! I've heard a lot of mixed things from people but I'm curious to see how it goes.
    Also I adore Little Shop of Stories. I wish I could visit Decatur more often but the traffic is a nightmare, lol.


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