Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

The Basics:
Burn Out by Kristi Helvig
Book One in the Burn Out series
Science Fiction, YA
Published April 8, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon.ca Kobo.com

Why I picked up this book:

I was trying to expand my horizons with some YA science fiction.


Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even more deadly than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone--her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun--one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in. 

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora's fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father's request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

My thoughts:


So, truth, I read the first page about eight times and it just did not grab me.  The book seemed so long and I wasn't really engaged right off the bat and I just couldn't see finding the time to read it, but I wanted to becuase I had requested the copy and the publisher had so generously sent it to me.

(Note to publishers and Netgalley - giving us an estimated length in your blurbs would be so helpful!)

It turns out that my dreading of it being 500+ pages long? Complete waste of energy.  Because for one, my copy of the ebook had, for some reason, two copies of the book. So it was only half as long as I expected. AND, in the end, the bigger problem - I wanted *MORE*.  I was so disappointed when the book ended because I needed to know what happened next (and I expected to find out what happened next, not to discover an Acknowledgement section half-way through the book....)

Moral of the story? Read at least the first chapter before relegating a book to the 'dread' pile.

I ended up loving this book. Our main character, Tora, is pretty badass. She's been alone for a while now, she's looking at a pretty bleak future, and she really wants to live while honoring her father's wishes. Above and beyond that, she's got some pretty awesome toys (read: guns) at her disposal.

Enter an assortment of secondary characters, including love interest James, who may or may not present Tora with a means of survival now that Earth has completely burned out.

I like that this book is solidly from Tora's perspective because the reader, like Tora, has no idea who to trust. Or, really, what the heck is really going on most of the time. I feel like there's a lot of political machinations that have occurred off-screen that it would be useful to know about. The slow reveal on the connections between the characters, explaining their loyalties to each other, made a great deal of sense, but knowing who Tora can rely on (if she can rely on anyone) is really like trying to walk across quicksand. In the end, I expected betrayal from everyone, as well as about-faces that would reveal everyone was secretly on her side at some point.

Crazy, yes?

It was kind of awesome, to be honest. And I really want to know what happens next. And what the greater political climate is - hopefully this will be explained in the second book in the series as the sequel to Burn Out is on my auto-acquire list.

Now, to be fair, the science of this all felt a little murky. So purists, you may want to read with caution. Anyone willing to read with a healthy dose of suspended disbelief, pick this one up!

Bottom line:

I should have read this sooner - or maybe not, because now I have longer to wait for the sequel. Loved it more than I expected, happy to recommend it!

4.5 stars
For fans of science(-lite?) fiction, romance with their space travel, big guns,  not knowing who to trust!

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