If you ask me, the sole reason for me to pick up this book is because, hello?! This is Jenny Han! I’m a sworn advocate of her books. I wouldn’t say this is one of her best but I managed to get to the end so yeah, tolerable.
Burn for Burn trilogy is a collaborative writing between Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I haven’t tried the latter on any of her solo novel yet but this book as a testimony, it’s still a must-try. With Jenny Han, her writing’s discernibly my drug.
The story is written in first person from three different perspectives. I’m quite a fan of switching POVs as it gives the reader a piece of his or her mind. Oftentimes, we don’t see the rationale of people’s acts until we try their eyeglasses, put on their shoes.
Basically, Burn for Burn’s target market is the adolescent populace. A book with such an objective should have a writing style that’s age-appropriate and that’s exactly how it’s carried out here. It marvels me how both of them are excellent at teen slangs and adolescent jargons when they’re clearly way past that stage already. Slipping into their writing is easy. No highfalutin words, mind-boggling sentences, jammed up incoherent ideas, and what-not.
Fundamentally, retribution is the main theme in Burn for Burn. Three girls wanted to get back to those who offended them oh-so-mightily. They think less and act more. Classic teenager trait. To some extent, I like how this theme (retribution) was presented. I was hooked from the time the protagonists allied until the end. Stealing homecoming queen and sports jock king title, causing someone’s epidermis to turn into a hot red, swollen mass. They were so lame and silly and not well thought-out. Again, classic teenager mind. Despite the huge connection to adolescent tendencies, I doubt this (manner of vengeance) will ever translate to reality. Some teenagers may possibly do it in a simple swish-and-flick but these characters, whose profiles are mostly immaculate (even Kat whose worst vice is just underage sex and chain-smoking), they’re going to need some serious crime-plotting tutorial before they are ever executed them properly. And what is it with teenagers and lock-jimmying?!
Burn for Burn also touched on themes like underage sex, teenage insecurities, and a little bit of fantasy (what?!). Stereotyping is big. A queen bee acts like she runs the school and uses her smoking hot body to make people do sh*t for her. Quarterbacks are swooned at. People opposing these alleged school rulers are thrown at the pit of shame. Those not conforming to society’s standard of beauty – the fat and the ugly – are bullied. It makes me wonder if this really a pattern on American high schools as these tropes appear in practically every high-school based books and movies.
Kat, Mary, and Lilia are strangers until a single vengeful intent unites them in the divine realm of the girl’s restroom. They’re plotting against a bully, a guy who hurt them in the past, and another guy who took advantage of their younger sibling. This is a hundred percent a hackneyed plot. I’ve seen this before in movies (Mean Girls to name a classic) and numerous books published prior to this. Not by any means did I get surprised on how the events went down. The ending was flat out predictable. Of course their plan worked otherwise why do they continue plotting? But one thing went off course. Why? Because this is the first in the trilogy. They have to sell the next books. The authors had to put that cliffhanger-on-pretense as bait for their readers to still want the subsequent books. That, too, was outright predictable.
High school is a big ocean teeming with fish from various species – the bully and the bullied, the haves and the have-nots, the well-known and the nobody, etc. Clearly, this characteristic of diversity was present on this book and CLEARLY, everything’s a cliche simultaneously. Let’s take essential ones in bits.
Lilia – She’s Korean but other than her looks, I don’t see any cultural traces of it in her. Lilia’s worth a million dollar. From her fancy house to her top of the line clothes to her swanky manners, everything screams how filthy rich she is. Her POV is my favorite, not because I can relate, but because it’s the most dynamic.
Kat – She’s a badass, I-hate-you-rich-townies kind of girl. Needless to say, she’s a trope. There should always be at least one couldn’t-care-less, pretend cool bitch in a story to create the perfect stereotypical environment.
Mary – She’s basically the most boring character in the book. Her character development was flat. Something about her supposed super powers annoyed me because I think this is plainly not stained with fantasy. Oh and did she ever mention how Reeve crushed her heart and soul into tiny fragments? If you failed to catch it, don’t worry she’ll repeat it in like a million times.
Rennie and Reeve – They’re basically the king and queen of Jar Island high. They own the place like Regina George. I like how they’re not rolling in the dough but they still manage to keep the thrones to themselves. A spark of diversity!
Alex – He’s a victim to this messed-up act of retaliation. Despite being proven not guilty of his crimes, nothing much happened.
At some points or two, one can’t help but relate to what these characters were suffering from. I didn’t care about taking home the Homecoming crown as a high school but I’m sure others made a huge fuss about it. Some of us hated the group who ate at the best cafeteria table during lunch. Some of us were part of that popular peer. Burn for Burn showed how it felt being in both. This sort of put females on pedestal at some point. I like how, at an overall view, girls are not portrayed as sweet weaklings but rather dark and cunning capable of pulling craps once thought only boys could.
For some reasons, I still kept my nose stuck to this despite the rampant typecasting and obvious banality on this book. The writing style was a huge factor, that’s for sure.
Before closing this review, let me display my favorite quote in this book:
“This is Karma. I’m a bitch. Can you think of anyone who deserves a bitch slap?”