The Burn starts off quickly with an introduction to Tessa, and the colony she lives in with her sister, father, and grandmother. The underwater world Oldham has created is intriguing and extremely detailed. Her character and setting descriptions help pull the reader into the world she has created. She does an amazing job setting up the plot, and you can easily see the turmoil Tessa has brewing in her head. She is unhappy in the colony and decides to adventure to the surface, a desolate land nicknamed The Burn.
Sadly, this is where the story plummets. It feels like the author assumed the reader would know what The Burn looked and felt like because, naturally, we live in that present day setting. The world building completely plummets, I found myself confused and questioning what exactly was going on in the book. Unlike in the colony, I was not able to picture what was going on in my head.
The price that Tessa paid to get to the surface was steep. (view spoiler) I was confused, shocked, and appalled at this. I get the reference to The Little Mermaid, where the protagonist was forced to give up her voice in exchange for her freedom, but that seems to be where the similarities stop.
She goes to the surface and immediately falls in love with a boy named Dave. Dave was previously engaged to Mary and they both still harbor feelings for each other. Throughout the novel, Tessa states how head over heels she is for this boy, and how amazing it is that she has found love in such a short time. When she first arrives, Dave seems to feel the same way, he barely leaves her side. However, when their first kiss comes, his feelings are confused and he doesn’t speak to Tessa for days afterwards. I’m not sure what the author was trying to do here, either Dave is mighty bipolar, or he is an asshole toying with Tessa’s heart. Ignoring her for days after kissing her is an extremely sadistic approach.
My main issue with the romance in this story is that (view spoiler)
I feel the novel redeemed itself by the end, however abrupt it was. (view spoiler)
Overall, this book started and ended great, but is weighed down by a lot of pointless back story. (view spoiler)
Recommended for: Newer YA readers
Favorite Character: Jack
Least Favorite Character: None of the characters really got to me that way. Since the antagonist was an entire group (the Government), there was no one person we were supposed to hate. I think that was another unique charm of this novel. No, I don’t hate Mary, and I don’t think we are supposed to.