Burn by Patrick Ness is an historical fantasy novel set in the early years of the cold war… with one big twist. Dragons inhabit decimated wastelands across the world. The novel starts with Sarah Dewhurst, a teenage biracial girl, and her father hiring one of these dragons to help with work on their farm. Throw in a teenage assassin belonging to a dragon worship cult, a surly FBI agent tracking his every move and a plot to destroy the world and you get a wild plot from start to finish. This book is very good at keeping the reader on their toes. The amount of twists, turns and intriguing story points in this book make for an incredibly engaging read.
This story would appeal most to teenagers from ages 13 to 17, especially those who have been on the receiving end of racial discrimination or identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. This is because the book mainly tackles the difficulties that come with being biracial and Japanese in a post-World War Two environment and having a family unaccepting of who you love. The book handles both these issues very well, weaving them into the plot and characters in a way that makes it feel very realistic. While this does make it a very enjoyable book that you cannot put down, it would have been even better if the book was longer. Since there is so much plot to fit into such a small number of pages, some characters and their developments suffer for it. With an incredibly interesting supporting cast, it is a shame it does not allow for more time to become invested in them and their relationships with the main characters.
Other than that, it is an extremely enjoyable book with an intriguing premise, a wild, action filled plot from start to finish and realistic main characters that successfully portray the struggles and discrimination they deal with. I would definitely recommend it and hope there will be a sequel!
Miah, age 15
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