BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Ashes to Ashes [Burn for Burn Trilogy 3] by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Ashes to Ashes“The idea for the Burn for Burn trilogy began over cupcakes, as the best ideas usually do,” the back cover teases, citing YA-writing BFFs Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian‘s inseparable relationship. That said, little is sweet about this searing series featuring three high school girls bound together by a revenge pact that goes horribly awry.

The final installment begins and ends with death: Rennie’s New Year’s Eve car crash proved fatal and another parent passes away on the penultimate page. In between, Lillia takes star billing as she attempts to make sense of her relationship (or not) with Reeve, although Rennie’s memory alone is enough to keep the love triangle (or unbalanced trapezoid, to be more accurate) still standing. When Lillia and Reeve’s star-crossed yearnings become all-school news, their friends are convinced their hook-up is nothing short of disrespectful. Suddenly the unsure pair are left on their own, not that they’re particularly complaining …

While Lillia’s out, Kat’s ironically now in. She’s the one who gets to hang out with Rennie’s posse over spring break on Alex’s uncle’s luxury yacht. Sure, she’s still anxiously waiting to hear from Oberlin, but for now she’s not nearly as tunnel-visioned toward making her escape.

And what of Mary? Lillia and Kat can’t seem to get in touch with her … or her spooky aunt. Mary hovers in and out of the chapters, angry to have been forgotten in the wake of Lillia’s obsessions and Kat’s plans. Her twisted addiction for Reeve is fueled by her sense of wrongful abandonment as she fires up the most destructive plot of all.

And you thought only Halloween was for witches, ghosts, and ghouls …! Burn for Burn ignites Fire with Fire until Ashes to Ashes … well … you’ll have to read to find out. Mwahahahahahaha!

So you might find yourself occasionally eyeball-rolling at the narrative excess – comments about “lily-white” Lillia (uh … but she’s Korean American), Alex’s careless wealth, Rennie’s creepily immature needy mother, and Kat’s incessant single-note attitude. Most cringe-inducing overall is an ever-present self-absorbed sense of teenage entitlement. That said – train-wreck style – you won’t be able to turn away. Although the ending “Epilogue” might strike you as overly convenient (and not a little unbelievable), know that until then, the pages will practically turn themselves …

Readers: Young Adult

Published: 2014


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