June 5, 2013

Review: Burning

‘Burning’ is such an interesting read—especially as a tale of young love. I requested it on Netgalley the moment I saw the cover and read the summary. This seemed like a book The Hodgenator would enjoy, and I was right.

I am such a sucker for a tale of young love, and the last two novels about young love have revolved around the idea of marriage at a young age, but the idea is from the male character, not the female character. I wonder if this is a new trend we will start to see in YA. Thoughts?

in love with this cover
Title: ‘Burning’
Author: Elana K. Arnold
ISBN: 9780385743341
Pages: 320
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Available: June 11, 2013
Source: Requested on Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447. 

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

My Thoughts:

What a tale of love at first sight—the idea is played with in this novel with the idea that sometimes when you see someone, you just know they will affect your destiny.

The plot of this novel had me intrigued because I am all into mysticism and all things tied to it. I had this from Lala, a Gypsy girl who is betrothed to marry in a few weeks, when she turns eighteen. Her family is on their way to buy cars but is sidetracked to Gypsum, NV where there is promise of making a lot of money from those attending the Burning Man festival.

I really enjoyed learning the customs of the Gypsies and experiencing a tarot reading. While reading this novel, my mind kept flashing to ‘Chocolat’ and the way the villagers treated the Gypsies and the level of discrimination they experienced. When Lala’s fiancé Romeo stepped on the page, all I could picture was Johnny Depp. Not a bad gig, right? And if you’ve not seen ‘Chocolat,’ you need to.

As readers meet Lala’s character, she is bound by duty to her family. That is the Gypsy way, so when Ben steps onto the page and into her tent for a reading, I found myself asking, “Why is he the game changer? What is it about this meeting that will set Lala on a different life course?”

And so, while reading, I found myself reading for a different purpose. Instead of reading and enjoying this love story, I was reading for what makes it a love story. The reason is because Lala took all she believed and threw them out of the window, with dire consequences. But at the novel’s conclusion, when I really reflected on the author’s point with Lala’s character, what I realized is that she needed Ben to do what she has always wanted to do—move forward with her life.

As for Ben’s character, what a charmer he is. At the novel opens, his goal is set: he is going to leave Gypsum with a scholarship and have a brighter future than his friends, at least that’s what he hopes. Throughout the novel this ticket to a better life is brought up in all the right places, a reminder that Ben doesn’t have time to fall in love and become sidetracked with Lala, he already has a future someplace else.

This book is not a typical love story in the sense that you will step away and feel good about love. At least, I didn’t. What it did was show that love can be a guide in life, and that it should. Love should be a part of us, but it should not be all of us. This is where young love can go wrong, and this is the path that Lala and Ben must figure out for themselves.

With all of that said, here is where weakness lies within the book: alternating point-of-views. The story is told through Lala and Ben, which is fine, I love alternating perspective; however, with this novel, I think it would have been a stronger one with just Lala. Here’s why: it’s her story.

I know Ben is a main character as well as we learn about his life, but he is not the star of this novel for me. While reading Ben’s story, I kept thinking how different it would be if the entire novel was from Lala.

Be warned that there is vulgar language within Ben’s point-of-view. I usually don’t comment on it when I read it in books, unless it is in there a lot. In this case, I thought I should just let you know.

This novel will appeal to readers of Stephanie Perkins because it has that same light-hearted feel, and for those ‘Eleanor & Park’ fans, you should add this one to your reading list as well.

What’s the best YA novel about love you’ve read lately? Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator


  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2013

    Burning sounds fascinating! I love that it's a love story that isn't necessarily gooey and predictable.

    1. I really enjoyed it - I thought Arnold did a great job with it.

      Happy Reading!

      Crys (The Hodgenator)

  2. Thanks so much for featuring BURNING! I am so excited to share this book with the world.

    1. Wow! Thank you for stopping in - I absolutely loved your book.

      Crys (The Hodgenator)

  3. Awesome review! Burning sounds charming :)

    New Follower :) Emily @ Counting in Bookcases

    1. Thank you so much - I really enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

      Happy Reading!

      Crys (The Hodgenator)


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