A book that sears through you and leaves a mark on you forever. That’s how I describe Burning by Danielle Rollins. This book is a mix of Orange is the New Black and sci-fi. The story follows Angela who is at a corrections facility and is trying to be on her best behaviour so she can be there for her younger brother. But the unexpected arrival of a young girl named Jessica and Dr Gruen gets in her way. There’s something strange about Jessica, the doctor and the latter’s elusive SciGirls, and they put Angela in a sticky position, leading to a road filled with danger and loyalty tests, and tying her to the prison more than she likes.
The strong points of Burning are the characters. Angela is snarky and so real, Dr Gruen gets under your skin, Mateo makes you melt and Jessica prickles your skin with goosebumps. The friendship between Angela, Issie and Cara is heart-warming and is more important than the romance that blossoms between Angela and Mateo. Angela, Issie and Cara are squad goals. I loved how supportive they are despite their ups and downs. They all have each other’s backs throughout the book.
Suspense is another strong point. Each chapter left me on the edge of my seat, guessing what would happen next and guessing the mystery surrounding Jessica and Gruen. SciGirls sounds like a cute, geeky group, but, plot twist, it’s not so innocent. [SPOILER ALERT] I thought Angela would be the one with…gifts since she referred to herself as a monster, but I appreciate monsters in unexpected forms and a protagonist who stands on her own without gifts. Just her ordinary human brain.
The only downside I found was the climax. I thought it wasn’t as mindblowing as I expected. It raised the stakes a bit but it felt rushed and didn’t give much room for Gruen. Despite her personality getting on my nerves, she doesn’t come out as a complex character. I would’ve loved to see her fleshed out more.
Burning isn’t your typical sci-fi and thriller book. I recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a refreshing look on tropes or need a reminder that kids are creepy.
This has been a honest review for Bloomsbury Publishing Australia