Release date: April 8, 2014
Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even more deadly than the hostile environment.
Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone–her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun–one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.
When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James.
She is shocked when James accidentally fires one of her father’s bio-weapons–weapons designed to work only for her. She’d felt a strange pull to James from the start, but the odds of someone sharing her energy vibration are statistically miniscule. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.
Tora, the central focus of Burn Out, is one of the survivors living alone in an underground bunker, waiting for the day when she gets to get off the planet. She has been entrusted the security of her father’s bio-energetic weapons and this makes her a precious commodity, more so because she is the only one who can wield the weapons. When mercenaries come banging on her door, naturally she tries to defend herself but when they all are under attack, she has to call truce. The whole story plays out on her mistrust for them and her value in their eyes. James, one of the runners, is blowing hot-and-cold, Kale is the tough ex-soldier who cannot be reasoned with, Marcus is the opportunist who was responsible for getting her in trouble and Britta is an unlikely ally. She is constantly on guard around them and the only thing keeping her alive is that she is to be kept so.
Most of the story revolves around Tora’s world – the burn out, how the society functions now, and what happened to have her end up in a bunker, fighting for her life. She has been taught to trust no one, but James with his intense stares, gets under her skin. She doesn’t trust him and is somewhat right in doing so. In a world working on kill-or-be-killed, he is not the best ally. And Kale is holding quite a lot over each crew member. It is mostly standoffs, culminating in her trying to escape but it gets frying-pan-to-fire soon. The ending was quite unexpected too, with a lot of things unexplained and on a cliffhanger.
Overall, I would say the writing was good. It has a good pace, and the world-building is good enough. I found it quite short, though, for a first book. Tora is an amazing character, made of steel but with a soft core. She abhors killing and isn’t about to start that tally. Confused about James, she makes some bad decisions but I would love to see how it plays out in the next book. I didn’t exactly get their ‘connection’ but the lack of any mushiness sure did redeem the story on that front. So, good book, in short, and I am eager to see how the series plays out.
Received an ARC from Egmont USA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.