Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: revenge, unlikely friendships, payback
Format read: ARC from Simon & Schuster.
Summary: Three girls team up to secretly seek revenge on the people who’ve hurt (or burned) them in the past. It’s all about getting payback.
In late middle school/early high school, my small class went through a transition period. This is the one point in time I look back and can pinpoint exactly when it became clear there was a hierarchy of popularity. Claws came out and some girls became mean while others remained innocent and naive. I was among the naive, not really understanding the social ladder. I wanted to be friends with everyone.
It didn’t really make sense to me when gym clothes were stripped away from one of my friends while the native mean girls proceeded to use them as skates on the locker room floor and glide around on them. A group of about four girls tossed the clothes over our heads and played keep away. To this day, I’m not really sure where the desire for that kind of behavior comes from, but this experience made Burn for Burn more understandable for me.
Three girls, Lillia, Kat, and Mary all have some issue or event they want revenge for. They’ve individually experienced something that causes these three very different characters to forge together and promise to help one another out. These girls aren’t in the same social circle; they have to learn how to trust one another as they become more deceptive and their revenge becomes more intense.
While I wasn’t directly targeted in the above scenario, I do understand that it would have been nice for the bullies to receive payback for the torture they put my friend through. I could relate to Lillia, Kat, and Mary’s pain, but the extremes they went to seemed a bit vindictive at times. I worried about all they had to lose as their plans got bigger and riskier. I was a mixed bag of emotions because I knew that the girls wanted closure for the pain they had suffered. However, I’m also a girl that doesn’t necessarily believe in “eye for an eye” behavior — it’s nice to take the high road and resolve issues in less forceful ways.
Han and Vivian did an incredible job of seamlessly writing the story – I felt that each girl (since it was told from all of their POVs) was unique and I couldn’t tell which sections were written by either author. The build-up was fantastic and there was an interesting dynamic between the three girls. I do hope in the upcoming books of the trilogy that we’ll see each of the relationships explored a bit more – both with the team of three revengeful friends and the people they are out to burn.
Within the last fifteen percent of the book, there is a lot of explosive action. My heart raced and the crazy action made the end pass by quickly. I was left with a few particular questions about Mary and definitely have questions regarding the serious cliffhanger of an ending. I can promise you will be very “OH MY GOSH! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!” as you close the book. Brace yourselves.
I’m very excited to see where Vivian and Han take this story in the upcoming books. For two authors I admire very much, I’m sure the message they’ll be sending will be on pointe, even if I have a few lingering questions right now.