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I Belong

Review: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Burn OutTitle: Burn Out

AuthorKristi Kelvig

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Burn Out (Book #1)

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages

ISBN-10: 1606844792 (Teens@Random)

ISBN-13: 978-1606844793 (Teens@Random)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone–her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun–one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

Quick & Dirty: This novel was enjoyable, with slight problems, but it left me wanting the sequel after a sudden twist. It’s a dark setting, but the main character’s witty, spitfire personality lightened the mood.

Opening Sentence: Six months and counting, yet not a whisper of a fellow human to be found.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Meet Tora: living alone, possibly the last survivor on the planet Earth. Her family is dead. The sun is turning red giant years before scheduled and her father left her a bunch of evil guns that she’s somehow expected to protect from the almighty, corrupt Consortium government. Using her WAR machine to collect water from the air, she gets barely a cup or so a day of water, and she can’t venture outside without a suit in the daytime. Even in the night, storms rage ruthlessly. But soon, she’ll meet some people — some trustworthy, some only using her, who claim they can get her to the newly discovered planet.

Tora is a fun character. She’s witty, sarcastic, determined, and strong — she never gives up. Though her situation sucks, she fights to make it better. Sometimes her spitfire attitude can screw up her position even more, especially when she’s screaming strings of profanities at her captors, but it was also funny to watch. I could compare her to a more hotheaded version of Katniss, from The Hunger Games (as you all know). I also loved how she wasn’t all strength, and had weaknesses and things that hurt her, namely the memories of her family. Her father, she looked up to, for standing up to the Consortium, and his bravery in general. Her mother she didn’t look up to, because towards the end she was addicted to the pain medications and hated life, but Tora misses her all the same. But most of all is Tora’s sister. We get so many memories through Tora’s point of view about how bubbly and sweet her sister was, how kind and hopeful, and the two were very close. Now Tora’s all alone in a burning Earth and trying to keep it together. Her efforts are admirable, if I say so myself, even if she messes up every so often.

There are two love interests, and for me, it was a clear choice. James and another one who comes later, Alec. I didn’t trust James in the slightest. Certain revelations made me appreciate him a tiny bit more, but I still think Alec is a clear winner. He’s funnier, more loyal, and get this — he took care of a dog on the burning earth, sharing his meager supply of water so it didn’t die. Tora likes them both, though I don’t know what she sees in James, beside his “hotness”. He has the shyer, quiet vibe. Alec is more open and witty.

When I was reading this book I was 48 percent through and excited because a huge plot twist had just went down. But, apparently my PDF had two versions of the story, the same versions, just one after another. This made it 50% longer. I was upset when I realized I’d have to wait to read the second because I genuinely enjoyed Burn Out.

Finally, something I would like to address. On Goodreads, I scrolled down to see the average feelings of the reviewers and look at the synopsis before diving into the novel. A few reviews absolutely bashed Burn Out for being unrealistic. I respect their opinions, and definitely there are parts of Burn Out that don’t make much sense from a scientific standpoint, so I agree a little. However, isn’t the point of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian YA to be unrealistic? Isn’t that what makes a book interesting, pushing the boundaries at new and unique, even if it doesn’t make complete sense? My conclusion — even if Burn Out was unrealistic, I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t read it. I enjoyed the characters and the plotline.

This novel was funny and unique. The ideas, especially for the weapons and some of the newer machinery, were very interesting. It was enjoyable as a whole, easy to read and be hooked into. It’s also a very quick book, or at least seems like it. If you’re a fan of space travel and dystopian novels than chances are, you will enjoy this to some degree. Yes, there were a few problems. The unrealistic elements, of which I have addressed already. Also, some scenes were a tad confusing and I would have to read again to fully understand. In the end, I still found this book lots of fun to read. Plus, look at the cover! It’s so bright and exciting! Little creepy, lots of color — just how I like it.

Notable Scene:

Markus watched my face, which I kept blank. Rage bubbled deep down inside but stayed buried, where emotions should stay. Rage was useless, hope only brought pain, and love ended in death.

He cleared his throat. “I think it’s safe to say the human race will continue, although I know you don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.

Burn Out Series:

1. Burn Out


FTC Advisory: Egmont USA/Random House provided me with a copy of Burn Out. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Review: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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