Burn for Burn: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan VivianLillia is pretty, rich, and used to getting everything she wants including having boys wrapped around her little finger. Until things go too far over the summer. After that Lillia isn’t sure of anything–especially how to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to her little sister. Ever.

Kat is tired of being an outsider subjected to insults and cruel jokes. She knows her former best friend is to blame. She might even know how to make her pay.

Mary left Jar Island four years ago because of a boy. She’s back now. She’s ready to show him just how different she is. And just how much he has to make up for.

These three very different girls are all after the same thing in Burn for Burn (2012) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Burn for Burn is the first book in a series as well as the first book Han and Vivian have written together.

Revenge stories like this one always run the risk of being one-sided. There is also always the potential that the protagonist will come across as unsympathetic or just plain mean.

Han and Vivian avoid these common pitfalls in Burn for Burn. The authors have created a convincingly idyllic island town with secrets and, for Lillia, Kat, and Mary, many wrongs just begging to be righted.

With chapters alternating between each girl’s narration, the story examines each heroine’s motivations making readers more than willing to follow this trio on their missions of revenge.

The objects of the girls’ wrath are also generally well-developed with both good and bad moments during the narrative. Alex is particularly dimensional. I would have liked to see more of Rennie and Reeve’s good sides, such as they are, but that might come up in the sequel.

While Burn for Burn focuses on all three girls and their plans for revenge the pacing shifts so that most of the story focuses on Lillia and, to a lesser degree, Kat. Mary is important as a device to move the plot forward but doesn’t get as much chance to feature as a character in her own right.* Things progress in a logical fashion until the last quarter of the novel when Han and Vivian start to rush, perhaps in an effort to amp up tension before the shocking finish.

By the end of Burn for Burn, Han and Vivian have managed to turn a lot of preconceived notions about the characters and the story itself upside down. With a cliffhanger ending and a lot of unanswered questions Burn for Burn is sure to leave readers clamoring for the sequel.

*I have a lot of theories about Mary and the ending of Burn for Burn. If you’ve read it, I bet you do too. Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Possible Pairings: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti, Graffiti Moon by Cath  Crowley, Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst, Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green, Clarity by Kim Harrington, Fury by Elizabeth Miles, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson

Exclusive Bonus Content: I really like the idea of the cover with the three girls and the muted colors that suggest a potentially sweet story. I think the depiction of Mary (center) is especially accurate to her character and spot on from her clothing to her jewelry.

Kat (left) looked a bit too refined and clean-cut compared to the Kat we meet in the novel. And, of course, I was thrilled with Lillia (right) being such a well-rounded, central character who is Korean (and on a cover).

But again that comes with a caveat: The jacket art wraps around from the front cover across the spine and to the back of the jacket so we can see all of Kat and Mary. Lillia is on the edge of the cover and, theoretically, her image could have wrapped around under the flap copy (since the image is so muted anyway) but instead it’s abruptly cut off with a white box for the summary text. It’s probably coincidence that the person of color was the one cut off, but it still made me think.

Also, since I’m already dissecting everything else about the cover, I thought it was odd that Mary was in the center. Her arrival sets a lot of things in motion but as I said she is more plot device than character at this point. In terms of page time Lillia is the obvious choice for the center of the cover (with Kat a close second). Yet, both of them are on the periphery of the cover.

I don’t know how long it will be up but if, like me, you were deeply affected by the missing part of the cover Jenny Han’s website currently features the entire image from the Burn for Burn cover.

*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2012*

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