Title: The Burn
Author: Annie Oldham
Format: Ebook provided by author for review
The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That's what Terra's father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right.
She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. When she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, she has to decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.
I haven’t read much by the way of dystopian, but not for lack of want. So when the author contacted me to review The Burn, I was excited. I had seen this book floating around, and I was eager to read it.
“The world as we knew it ended in a bang”
The world as we know it is destroyed. In an effort of survival and moving on, people – scientists – set up colonies to live in… in the ocean on the ocean floor. Life in the colonies is planned and watched. There is barely any room for self choice. Even your meals are planned. There’s no pollution, very little crime, and for the most part people seem happy.
But one person isn’t. Terra is a 16 year old girl, the daughter of The Speaker (basically like the governor). She is one of six siblings in her family, yet only one of two to survive birth. Terra and her sister Jessa couldn’t be more different. Right here I want to point out the cleverness in this story. I mean, sure you will read it (the cleverness) throughout, but just in Terra’s name – land – you know she isn’t mean to live in the ocean. Well done. I really appreciate little things like that. Attention to detail goes a long way.
It is approximately one hundred years after WWIII. And Terra has heard about The Burn, land that has been ravaged since The Event, her entire life. She wants to get out of the ocean, the never-ending blackness beyond the windows, the blind fish that bump into the windows. They are a poor substitute for birds, which she has never seen.
“Nuclear fall out. Roving gangs. Complete Anarchy. No reliable plumbing. Take your pick”
That’s what they are told is all that is left on land. But it doesn’t matter, Terra is going to get out. And she does. And there are plenty of sacrifices she must make to do so, but so great is her need to be free that she makes the sacrifices and goes forth. Honestly, if it were me, I don’t think I could make the same sacrifices. I’d like to think there was a different way, there had to be. I would have liked to have kept her choice as a last resort. But then I’ve never been captive in what amounted to a bubble in the sea. Who is to say what you would or wouldn’t do? Just because your captor keeps you clean and well taken care of doesn’t mean that its good for you, right?
I suppose that extreme situations and adrenalin can cause an emotional flood – but the quick bond between Dave and Terra on The Burn kind of didn’t sit well with me. It just didn’t seem, I don’t know, right. She can’t tell him the whole truth, and he just seems a bit confused. He doesn’t seem to be as in control of himself as I’d like to see, for someone who is the unspoken leader of their group. It’s hard for me to remember that these people are teenagers. That’s not because of the story, the author does an extremely good job of painting the picture. I just think that I was looking for a bit more in terms of Dave. Her inexperience at lying creates problems, and he just accepts what she says even though it clearly isn’t true. The joys of being young and not having the experience that’s needed to detect lies.
Generally I found this story to be a fascinating story of what is to come. Annie Oldham set the scene flawlessly, in both the water and on land. New America (The United States) is exactly what Terra was taught her whole life, and it is clearly and rawly shown. From the beauty and simplicity of the colonies, the harsh reality of life on The Burn, you completely feel you are right there with Terra experiencing everything.
The people Terra meets are quick to accept her, just as she was told they would be. They are an instant new family, and it is easy to be with them. At least for a bit. That doesn’t take long for it to change. And ultimately I believe Terra made the right choices each step of the way since she arrived on The Burn. She is a strong young woman, a wildcard in the colonies, but she is going to quickly come into her own when she is on land. She has a lot to learn, but I believe she will do it with ease.
A few things within the story itself leave me with a few questions. I want to know more about Matt, and why he had such an unusual name. I’m curious about how Gaea and how she manages to live undetected where she does. But all in all I really enjoyed this story.
*** *** *** ***
Where to find Annie Oldham