(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.
What did you think of this review?