Burning is a thrilling and suspenseful book, written by Danielle Rollins.
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is now months away from release. She’ll finally get the hell out of Brunesfield Correctional Facility.
And then Jessica arrives… she’s young — only ten years old — so why did she arrive in shackles under the highest security? And why is she being kept in segregation? No one knows what she did to end up there. But there are plenty of rumours.
Pretty soon strange things start happening to Angela and her friends. Could they be down to Jessica?
This little girl might just be more dangerous than anyone expected…
This book had me at ‘Orange is the New Black meets…’. Seriously. I started reading this Burning literally the minute after I finished the last episode of the latest season of OITNB because I was craving more of that whacky and heart-wrenching series. So I immediately got stuck into Burning to take my mind off the post-OITNB sadness, and I’m pleased to say that it definitely distracted me from thinking about people like Red and Alex and Lolly and instead transported me into a similar environment, but one that was also a lot more sinister and had a healthy portion of the supernatural stirred in. Burning was a book that kept me awake at night as I thought of all the possibilities of how it might end, but also because it was so chilling that it made me second-guess that the rustling outside my window was really just the wind. This is definitely a book to be read with the lights on.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with the characters in the way that I did. I particularly adored getting to know Angela, our main character. She’s so snarky and full of anger, but the part of her which is fiercely protective of her friends gave us glimpses of the person she is beneath the correctional facility overalls. It broke my heart to see her battle the thoughts that she wasn’t wanted or that no one cared about her, because the reader best of all could see that she wasn’t the one-dimensional criminal like the way that so many people view those in prison or juvie. But what I admired most about her was the way she was able to stay strong in every situation, no matter how testing, and pull courage from deep within herself to enable her to fight until the very end. That takes guts, and there’s nothing I love more than a gutsy character.
Perhaps the only character that I didn’t like was Dr Gruen. Of course, I know you’re not meant to like her, but that wasn’t the issue. See, I love reading about well-developed and vivid villains that clearly show what their motivations are and most importantly, why they have those motivations. While we were given a brief explanation as to why Dr Gruen acted the way she did, I would have loved to have seen a different side to her and for her to not just be portrayed as one-dimensionally evil. The only thing Dr Gruen really achieved was getting on my nerves. I didn’t really fear her and she didn’t appear overly complex. I feel that if her character was given just a little bit more, it could have allowed me to completely fall in love with this novel. However, this slight downfall isn’t the be-all and end-all as all of the other characters are very well developed.
Some of the other characters that have to be discussed when talking about well developed characters are Angela’s friends, Issie and Cara, and also Jessica. They each had their own detailed backstory and vivid, real personalities. The friendship between these girls never felt forced and I loved how there were times when there was some strain of their relationships with each other and that they weren’t always the bestest of friends, because it helped these characters to really leap off the page. Jessica was particularly interesting. I never really knew if I could trust her or not and just seeing her name of the page sent shivers down my spine. If Danielle Rollins was trying to freak us out, and I think she might have been, then she definitely succeeded.
The suspense and mystery of this novel is also one of the best aspects of Burning. I’ve heard that some people were disappointed in this book because they thought it would be more of a horror, but while there are some scary scenes, I wouldn’t classify this novel in that way. It’s more of a slow-burning fear that radiates out from the pages and slowly devours you, leaving you on the edge of your seat for the entire length of the book. There weren’t any breaks from the mystery and the occasionally shocking occurrences, and that made this book absolutely fly by. This is the type of book that you’ll sit down to read and only realise it’s 1am once you’ve turned the last page. You won’t be able to tear your eyes from it.
Another very strong aspect of this novel was the creation of the juvenile detention centre and how it seemed to really pull me into the story. I could practically feel the chill of the air from the segregated section and smell the mass-produced food and hear the clanking of bars and keys going into doors. Honestly, I don’t think the author could have done a better job at transporting us to the eerie and depressing halls of Brunesfield. It gave me shivers.
The only real downfall to this book is that I felt as though it ended too quickly. As a reasonably short novel to begin with, it would have made it feel a little longer if the ending wasn’t as abrupt. I felt as though I was expecting a lot more from it, and while you definitely get a really massive and intense scene towards the end, I still felt a little unsatisfied. However, I also think that I would have been begging for more regardless of how long this book was simply because I was enjoying it way too much for it to end. All I can hope for is that Danielle Rollins releases more sensational novels soon!
If you’re looking for thriller that will ensnare you in its pages and surprise you with a reveal that couldn’t be more unexpected, then Burning is the book for you! I’m eagerly awaiting Danielle Rollin’s next book!
Is Burning on your TBR? Are you a fan of suspense novels? If you’ve read this one, were you expecting the twist? What’s your opinion on one-dimensional characters? Have you read any other books set in a juvenile detention centre? Are you BURNING UP WITH DESIRE to read this book? Let me know down below!
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Publication date: July 1st, 2016
Australian RRP: $17.99