April 8, 2014
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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.
Kristi Helvig's Burn Out is a really good YA sci-fi read. It is three hundred years in the future and, after an asteroid headed for Earth was deflected and sent into the sun, the sun's gone into a sort of hyper-drive. The oceanss have long since boiled away, there's a lack of oxygen and temperatures are extreme enough to be deadly.
While I'm not sure the science of Burn Out (the sun is quite far away with possibly other gravitational pulls along the way; I do think the characters would have died of dehydration even considering how things were supposed to work), it is an enjoyable book. Once you accept that the asteroid hit the sun, not Earth and now the sun is basically out to kill everyone, most of the rest works well.
From the change that occurred in societal structure to the scientific advancements made and even (mostly) how Tora's been surviving, it is all creative and you can imagine Tora's day to day. There is a nice balance of worry and near hopelessness which makes perfect sense given the situation, and the hope, the ability Tora has to continue on thanks to her routine and maybe, finally, getting out.
The introduction of the new characters comes with a logical reason and introduces something new to Tora's world. The danger from both the environment and from her visitors presents some very interesting dilemmas. The new situation causes Tora to question herself in ways she hadn't before and to question if things she held as truth are really so true.
I very much enjoyed the character development that happened. Throughout the book we learn more about Tora's life before the story started - and as a result, the world she lived in. The more we learn about her, her past and her family, the more we can connect with her character and current events.
There is just the right amount of ambiguity with the other characters and their motives. It is hard - if not impossible - to tell if they're as bad as they first seem. The changes that take place in their behavior as well as how Tora views them is nice.
As you get pulled into the story of Burn Out, of Tora and the other characters, the questionable science is easily forgotten. You can't help but wonder how things will resolve - and if they will all make it there. My only real problem with Burn Out was that ended - and a bit more abruptly that I liked. Though, it only left me more anxious to read Strange Skies, the sequel.
Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Martian by Andy Weir and Stitching Snow by RC Lewis
thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for my advance copy to review