Ness books are always this exquisite mix of the unique, bizarre and heartfelt aching.
This one is set in the 1950s and it’s strange, so so strange, but honestly enthralling. The middle of the book left me utterly breathless. It’s one of those stories you cannot predict and I actually enjoy being left to the whims of an author instead of guessing how it’ll all turn out by the end (I read a lot, okay!!! I make a lot of accurate guesses!!)
I also have a giveaway going right now on Instagram if you want to enter!
The story looks like this:
it’s 1956, Sarah Dewhurst’s father’s farm is failing. She’s biracial and black and faces awful discrimination in her tiny backwards town of Frome (her best friend Jason is Japanese and treated even worse than she is) and she’s missing her dead mum and she’s worried this is it for her whole life. Farm. Pigs. Hiding that she loves Jason because it’ll just give racists more to harass them about. Oh and also? There are dragons. And it’s NORMAL. And there are jUST DRAGONS RANDOMLY. Also a teen assassin cultist who worships dragons. Also FBI people tracking down teen cultist because he’s about to murder someone. Also he’s headed for Frome. Also he’s soft and gay and his name is Malcolm — but is it? And Sarah’s dragon is Russian and sarcastic and non threatening — bUT IS IT??
So it seems like a quiet book, and it is…but it is also thoroughly wild. It’s the perfect read for people who like genre-smashers, the bizarre made normal, and introspective style of storytelling.
I didn’t even mention everything bizarre that goes on because you need the plot twists 😂 prepare ourselves to absorb.
I quite liked this book!
It took a bit of getting used to, and I’m not wholly sure what the message was apart from: war is bad, don’t be a warmonger. I really loved Malcolm, our cultist boy assassin, because he’s just such a dedicated dumbass and I loved his character arc stretching him and challenging him to think for himself. Sarah was so down-to-earth and sensible, the kind of character who you can rely on to be solid. The writing has this factual quality, but also it’s just so powerful and edged with whimsy. The whole book has a lot to say.
(It’s not my favourite Ness book, but a captivating one nevertheless!!)
This is a story of war and change, of teens who have been lied to or mistreated, and have left to search for their own truths.
It’s bizarre and enchanting and twisty, and incorporates high fantasy (prophecies! dragons!) into a more modern setting in such an intriguing way. I’ve not read anything quite like this. And if you’re sitting there like, “does this have REAL dragon content” well yes, yes it does. Kasimir is a sassy little smart alek, I adored every moment of his scaly calm wit and comebacks.
Thanks to Walker Books for the ARC! Burn by Patrick Ness is out now!
In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?
alright let’s talk DRAGONS — if your current read had dragons in it, would it help or wreck the plot?! and tell me if you’ve read any Patrick Ness books!