Author: James Jaros
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: April 26, 2011
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*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review
For more information please visit James Jaros's website.
After the destruction of nature and the death of the world . . .
After the Wicca virus drove billions to madness and suicide, replacing order and reason with violence and terror . . .
In the parched ruins of what once was civilization, one commodity is far more valuable than all others combined: female children.
When well-armed marauders roll in at dusk to brutally attack a fiercely defended compound of survivors, Jessie is unable to halt the slaughter—and she can do nothing to prevent the ruthless abduction of innocents, including her youngest child. Now, along with her outraged teenage daughter, Bliss, Jessie must set out on a journey across a blasted landscape—joining up with the desperate, the broken, the half-mad, on an impossible mission: to storm the fortress of a dark and twisted religion and bring the children home.
Never before have I read such a vivid, intense novel as Burn Down the Sky by James Jaros, the pen name for acclaimed journalist and author Mark Nykanen. This bleakly oppressive read definitely hits chords that resonate unease and suspense by the bucket load focusing on subjects that send shudders down the spines of parents everywhere. If you are squeamish about graphic, brutal violence or child abuse, then this is certainly not for you! With disturbing plot lines and thrilling, nail-biting action, this is definitely not bed time reading!
From the first paragraph, Jaros's amazingly descriptive writing set the stage for a word that was bleak and filled with hardships from not only the chaos left by the sky rocketing temperature, but from the sheer plight of resources. It is painfully obvious that nothing comes easily in this broken world and that the dangers that lurk in the blazing sun are beyond numerous. The tone and atmosphere were intensely created, bringing the reader directly into a frightening, brutal world where simply surviving is as good as it gets. The absolutely chilling thing though was the plausibility of this barren world. The sheer horror of the possibility is what definitely sets this novel apart as it keeps a very realistic edge.
The characters weren't exactly what I had been expecting. They're brutal and violent, far removed from hope for a better world. But, despite this, there is still an unyielding love and sense of loyalty about family that drives these characters passed survival as they feel the only hope possible-the safety of their children. Each is complex, making the toughest possible decisions with tragic and complicated histories that have shaped them, some for the better, but some for the worse. But, because of the horrific consequences of a raid that stole young girls to be delivered into a church formed of child molesters, the young girls really stole my heart with their strength and bravery. Their never ending faith that their parents would come, that someone would stand up and recognize how wrong and disturbed this world had become waiting really sparked great emotion, especially as the girls realized that while you can hope for the best, ultimately you have to fight for your own survival as well. There was also a lot of twists as characters surprised me throughout, something that I didn't think possible. But, by the end I was so conflicted about some of the characters that I simply had to say that this is one world truly dominated by shades of gray and black with little to no white.
There was a lot of great action within this story with each chapter propelling you deeper and deeper into darker territory. The gripping suspense as the girls are drawn closer and closer to a church built around child molestation and the thrilling chase of the parents bent on rescuing their them truly made this an adrenaline packed novel. But, there was definitely a lot that left me cringing on the verge of feeling violated myself. The writing style definitely pulls you into the moment, which at times is a good thing and at others simply makes you feel dirty fearing the possibilities that this future holds.
Overall, this was an intense read that really took my breath away. But, while it was a marvelously well done work, it definitely left me quite conflicted about how to rate it. There was a lot of merit to the author's writing style as well as the development of the world and characters, but there was just so much that put me on edge, which was definitely the purpose of the novel. Burn Down the Sky is without a doubt NOT for the light hearted as there are a lot of elements that are disturbing and brutal, I would definitely not recommend it to younger readers. That said, if you can handle a dark, intense read focused on disturbing and bleak subject matter, this is definitely an interesting and gripping read that definitely illicits some strong emotional responses.
My Rating: 4 out of 6 Scars
Advisory: Brutal violence, disturbing subject matter focusing
-NOT recommended for younger readers-