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Burned by Burned.

  • Jun 28, 2010

(There are some slight spoilers here - no details, but plot direction spoilers.)

I was really excited to read this book, but it let me down pretty hard. I sat up one night and read the whole thing from cover to cover, and wound up wishing that I hadn't - the ending was very tragic, which I wasn't prepared for.

I found myself very emotionally invested in Pattyn's success and wanted her to do well and come out winning on the other side of her situation. Personally, I also come from a religious background, so I understand what it is like to not believe the same thing as your parents (although I didn't have it quite as bad as Pattyn did!) The romantic bits were VERY romantic, and the prose helps to suck you in with that - it's a very quick read, despite its size.

I don't know if I can recommend this book with a clear conscience. The book features a very skewed take on Mormonism, so anyone not familiar with that particular religion may get the wrong idea by reading this book. The twist at the end is also quite dark, which I really didn't agree with. I personally feel that a young adult's book should be hopeful, to help encourage young people to get through a tough situation. Pattyn grows incredibly as a character, and you're really willing her to do well.

The book is first set up in the suburban areas of Nevada, and then moves on to the rural parts. The old prairie feel is pretty strong, and Pattyn seems to adjust quickly to the change of scenery. I liked that the book wasn't set in Utah, despite being heavily centered around Mormonism. The plot seems to be going along just fine until you realize toward the end what is about to occur. It feels like the rug is torn out from under you, since the author has given no hint whatsoever that things might go badly for Pattyn.

I personally do not understand what the author was trying to convey with what she wrote. She tries tackling a number of different subjects, including religious out-casting, young romance, "coming of age", child/spousal abuse, and tragedy. However, it seems to me that Hopkins took too much on her plate with this one. The book is cluttered with things Pattyn has to deal with, and then the sudden unhappy ending makes one wonder what a depressed young girl would do after reading this book. What's the point in following your dreams if they're just going to end in misery?

If you're going to reach out to your audience, especially young adults, I believe you should give them hope. Pattyn's situation does the opposite. If Ellen Hopkins really wants to continue writing such dark books (considering the success of her Crank series), she should direct them toward adults. Burned was not written well enough to be much more than a waste of time, and I actually gave my copy away soon after finishing it - but not before I warned my friend of what was to come so she wouldn't feel disappointed like I did.

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June 29, 2010
Wow, sounds like an interesting read despite all the cluttering the author caused by having too many themes and issues she wanted to touch on. I'm tempted to read it just because your review sparked my curiosity. I'm sure I would come out of it as disappointed as you, though. Hmm....what a conundrum!
June 30, 2010
Well now that you know, it might not hurt to read it! I was more bothered because I didn't know. But it's just like Romeo and Juliette - everyone knows that's a tragedy, and it doesn't make it any less of a good read!
June 30, 2010
Yeah, that's too true! I've felt cheated by books when I didn't know certain things about them that I felt like I should know.

Ah, "Romeo and Juliet!" It's my favorite Shakespeare next to "Macbeth." Sometimes I love Shakespeare and sometimes I'm bored. It usually depends on my mood and how long it's been since I've read one.

If I read "Burned," I will be sure to let you know what I think. :)
June 30, 2010
Please do! I'd love to know what you think!
July 01, 2010
Great! I'm going to request this book from the Goodreads Book Swap, and see if I receive it faster. Otherwise, I can always visit my local library once I get a couple of waiting reviews finished. :)
About the reviewer
Christina Schoppe ()
Ranked #1081
My name is Chrissy! I like reading, drawing, writing, and all other sorts of nonsense. I currently work from home, being a professional lazy bum.
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Grade 9 Up–Once again the author ofCrank(S & S, 2004) has masterfully used verse to re-create the yearnings and emotions of a teenage girl trapped in tragic circumstances. Poems in varied formats captivate readers as they describe a teen's immobilizing fear of her abusive father, disgust with a church hierarchy that looks the other way, hope that new relationships can counteract despair, joy in the awakening of romance, and sorrow when demons ultimately prevail. Pattyn Von Stratten is the eldest of eight sisters in a stern Mormon household where women are relegated to servitude and silence. She has a glimpse of normal teenage life when Derek takes an interest in her, but her father stalks them in the desert and frightens him away. Unable to stifle her rage, Pattyn acts out as never before and is suspended from school. Sent to live with an aunt on a remote Nevada ranch, she meets Ethan and discovers forever love. Woven into the story of a teen's struggle to find her destiny is the story of her aunt's barrenness following government mismanagement of atomic testing and protests over nuclear waste disposal. Readers will become immersed in Pattyn's innermost thoughts as long-held secrets are revealed, her father's beatings take a toll on her mother and sister, and Pattyn surrenders to Ethan's love with predictable and disturbing consequences. Writing for mature teens, Hopkins creates compelling characters in horrific situations.–Kathy ...
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ISBN-10: 1416903550
ISBN-13: 978-1416903550
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: McElderry

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