A new novel by two of my favorite teen authors?! Is it my birthday and I didn't know it? I've previously given glowing reviews to Shug by Jenny Han and The List by Siobhan Vivian. Now they have teamed up to write Burn for Burn and it is the perfect blend of two perfect authors. I managed to get my hands on an advanced reader's copy and devoured it in a single day. The library has it on order right now and it's worth getting your name on the holds list so you can devour it right away too.
This novel of hurt and revenge features three very different characters along the high school social ladder, each of whom has been burned by a different person in the ruling clique. Lillia Chan seems to have little to complain about in her very privileged life. She's one of the most popular girls in the school--a cheerleader, gorgeous, rich, surrounded by friends. But the guy who has always been her biggest fan has been secretly seeing her little sister. This betrayal coupled with the scars from a nightmarish (and secret) incident that occurred at the last summer party has pushed Lillia to the edge. So when tough girl and rebel outcast, Kat DeBrassio, approaches her with a plan for taking revenge, Lillia is in. Kat has more obvious reasons to nurse grudges. She is considered "trash" by the rich kids, and though most of them leave her alone, the top cheerleader and school queen bee is determined to embarrass Kat and make her miserable. They used to be close friends, but Rennie has turned on Kat with unrelenting vindictiveness. Kat spent the summer secretly making out with the same boy who is now seeing Lillia's little sister, but it's the queen bee she wants to take down. It's supposed to be just Lillia and Kat working together to destroy their enemies, but a newcomer to the school, Mary Zane, gets into the mix through a series of events that leads her to Lillia and Kat at just the right time. Mary used to live on Jar Island with the other kids when she was younger. Younger and fatter. She's now lost the physical weight but not the psychological weight of the cruel bullying she endured from the boy who has become the star high school quarterback and homecoming king. Mary won't tell the full story of the humiliation she suffered--not at first. But when she finally shares her secret, it cements the girls' decision. They will work together, all of them complicit, to eke revenge in the most painful possible ways on the people who have hurt them.
Revenge can go so wrong.
I stand by my previous statement that Siobhan Vivian is writing some of the best contemporary teen fiction out there these days. I can see her plotting here, similar in structure to The List, though this novel is a different story and not a rehash. I'm not quite so sure which parts Jenny Han crafted, though I suspect the Nantucket-like island setting is hers. All I know is that the two authors brought their writing together beautifully. This novel will hook you from start to finish.
Now, about the finish. . . I could tell as my remaining pages were dwindling that the book was coming to an end. (I'm pretty sharp that way.) But it felt like there was more left to say and how could it all be said in the few remaining pages? I got to the end and still felt that there was more to be said. Though the book is still satisfying, I wondered if we would see these characters again. I could definitely stand to read more of them. Without spoiling things, there are some unanswered questions at the end, specific to the star quarterback's condition and also to the fallout the revenge scheme might have upon its three creators. Revenge is a dish best served cold but it's all too easy for that dish to splash back into one's vengeful face. Perhaps the authors wanted to leave the reader to contemplate the future of the characters on his or her own. I know I have been thinking about them a lot. But maybe, just maybe, the story will continue in a second novel. Or maybe, since I had an ARC, the published version will be slightly different than the one I read. You can bet I will be checking out the finished copy to compare and contrast. Ending aside, this is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it.