Burn for Burn (Book 1) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.
Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she’s ready to make her pay.
Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. And she’s ready to prove it to him.
Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won’t stop until they each had a taste. (Goodreads)
This cover is to die for gorgeous. Yes, these girls are too incredibly beautiful to all live in one tiny town and be teamed up together (because it just isn’t fair to the rest of us), but I still love it.
I need to get this out of the way immediately. HOLY SHIZZ, IT’S JENNY HAN AND SIOBHAN VIVIAN! I love them both, especially Jenny’s Summer books, and I’m so jealous that not only are they best friends but now writing partners. This is a fabulous pairing.
OK, so we should talk about the book now.
Burn for Burn focuses on three girls—who aren’t friends—living in a tiny place called Jar Island. In order to truly understand the basic idea of the book, you need to know where each girl is coming from.
Mary is returning to the island after a few years away. She’s a sweet and timid girl who was once the victim of heartless bullying (is there any other kind?), mostly at the hand of one jerkwad extraordinaire, Reeve, the popular junior high boy who grew up to be that popular high school boy with zero depth and mega tool tendencies.
Lillia is that beautiful, popular girl who is just sort of over it. Her best friend, Rennie is quite the nasty Queen Bee, bent on snagging Reeve (she can have him. For reals), continuing her evil reign as Cheer Captain, and devoting herself to maintaining her status as a pretty, popular, nasty little bish. Lillia’s never been quite as nasty as Rennie, but in the past she’s been apathetic about it, eating up the attention she receives as one of the in crowd. But now it’s like a light switch has flipped and part of her wants to fight it. She’s tired of the popular kids, and angry at Rennie for what transpired one night at a wild college party. Worse, it led to a possible hook-up between her old buddy Alex (also of the In Crowd) and her sweet little freshman sister. You don’t mess with a girl’s sister.
Then there’s Kat. God, I love her. Kat was once best friends withe Lillia and Rennie. Now she’s the resident bad girl from the wrong side of town. Ousted from the inner circle of Rennie and the gang at the beginning of high school and instantly marked as trash, Kat has no problem being a bitch. She had this secretive summer friendship with Alex that turned into a little bit of a fling until it seemed that Lillia’s little sister, Nadia stepped in, apparently primed to follow in her sister’s perfectly popular footsteps. And since Rennie continues to make Kat’s school life miserable, Kat decides to finally get back at her and Alex and the whole crew for the years they’ve spent tormenting her.
Burn for Burn is a book about revenge. Mary, Lillia and Kat come together after a chance encounter in the ladies room (cuz it’s where we hang) and craft a meticulously laid out plan to basically destroy Reeve, Rennie and Alex. No one can know they’re friends or they might suspect. This is most important for Lillia who’s in the lion’s den every day and has to spend time actually pretending to like these people. She definitely has the hardest job being that Rennie is constantly in her face being an idiot, Reeve continues his reign as Super Douche and Alex continues trying to hide this one-night stand he apparently had with Lillia’s baby sis. And oh, the evil plans come together beautifully. I mean, I cringed, but I also laughed. In fact, I almost felt bad for the first victim. Almost. And since it goes without a hitch, this only emboldens the girls.
Throughout the book we get glimpses into the past of each girl; we find out what is truly driving them and how they came to be exactly where they are. There are details about Kat’s early friendship with Lillia and Rennie, Mary’s “friendship” with Reeve, and what ultimately drove her to the breaking point, and also the sad truth about what happened to Lillia the night she left her sister at Alex’s house to go to a party with Rennie. It’s all there in painfully vivid detail.
Fair warning, though there are some funny moments in this book, there is darkness. Issues like bullying, date rape, suicide are all there. While they aren’t in any way glorified, they are certainly not tame subjects. I think the authors handled these issues with honesty, but they may not be for the faint of heart or those looking for a cute, girly read. And being the first in a series, this book takes an awfully strange twist at the end–one I didn’t see coming, even though it was hinted at ever so delicately early on. You will not see a final resolution to the story, but you’ll meet some very interesting characters along the way.
The writing here is, of course, absolutely flawless. The dialogue is spot on as in all of Han’s and Vivian’s novels, but this is a departure for both of them. Think of it as being similar to their other writings (a little edgier like Vivian) but with a bit of supernatural thrown in. I’m not talking wolves or vampires or anything, but there is something that isn’t completely normal going on. It’s like a weird combo of Heathers and Mean Girls with some magic. Sort of. And not the cute kind of magic. The Stephen King’s Carrie kind.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 This book may not be for everyone, but I think if you like either of these authors (and how could you not, hello) or if you’re willing to try something a little different, this is a good option. I completely enjoyed it and I’m very interested in the rest of the series. It was really good. I read it in a day.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s for sending me a copy of Burn for Burn.