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YA Review: Burn by Patrick Ness (CYBILS finalist)

Title: Burn

Author: Patrick Ness

Year Published: 2019

Category: YA fiction
Pages: 384
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (Washington)

FTC Disclosure: I was given a free copy by the publisher for a fair review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

Review: This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Awards so I read it as a round 2 judge.

I have heard about Patrick Ness over the years, but had never read one of his book. Again, what a cool cover. But, dragons? Not really my thing. But here's what I've learned reading these 7 speculative fiction books: always begin a book with an open mind because you just never know. 

I liked this book more than I initially thought I would. It's got interracial dating/marriage and how Americans in the mid 1950s felt about it (not good), reflections on the internment camps in WWII, spies, assassins, and a Russian dragon that turns out to be helpful. Go figure!

The chapters alternate between the dragon and the Sarah/James story and the FBI agents/assassin storyline. I enjoyed the former, but of course, they meet up about half way through.

For teens who like Patrick Ness and/or dragon-inspired books, this book will be a hit.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Children's historical fiction--animal on the cover
  • Diversity--mixed race characters

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