I picked up a copy of The Burning by Laura Bates a couple of months ago when it was first released. I really love the work that Laura does for feminism and i’ve flicked through her non-fiction books and really enjoyed them. I was very interested to see what her previous work would translate to in YA fiction.
Laura will be at YALC this year to discuss The Burning and i cannot wait to listen to what she has to to say about this wonderful book. It was just the kick i needed to pick it up!
I went in to The Burning knowing very little about the plot and characters, if you want to do the same, ignore this next paragraph, but in case you want a little bit of extra information about it, here’s the general plot. Anna has to move away from her home because of a scandal that erupted throughout her school about her. She leaves all her friends behind, cuts contact and assumes that it will never catch up with her again. That is until it does. The scandal starts to make its way around her new school, ruining everything that she’s managed to have since moving. Along with that, Anna is tormented by a Witch that she assumes lived in her new home years previously. It’s a wonderfully intertwined and interesting story.
One thing that i really loved about The Burning was the addition of the magical elements that i wasn’t expecting. It’s not magical realism, but there are aspects of paranormal almost that i really enjoyed reading. Anna is practically haunted by a ghost of a witch, and it’s incredibly interesting to see how that intertwines with her current life. It also adds some depth and some interesting points to the story!
As i expected, one of the main themes in The Burning was feminism, women’s bodies and women’s rights. This comes in the form of some inappropriate photos spread around without any consent. I’ve read a couple of books like this one now and i think The Burning handled the topic in one of the best ways. The degrading comments towards Anna were made very clear that they were not tolerable and the bullying shown due to the nature of her scandal seemed to be very realistic. I really liked the representation it gave to kids who know they have made a mistake, and are now living through the consequences.
I absolutely adored the characters in this book too. There were some absolute gems such as Anna’s friends and someone she ends up calling a mentor. All the characters seemed to work really well together and were incredibly realistic. I also very much appreciated Anna not jumping straight in to a friendship group and everything was made out to be fine. Her feelings were being processed throughout the book about her butting in on two friends and how their relationships would never be the same. It was nice to see that being played out realistically.
Overall, i really did enjoy The Burning, it was quite different from many other YA novels i’ve read and it was quite a fun read. There are definitely some trigger warnings regarding sexual contact, consent and a few other things, however it’s incredibly raw and realistic i found. It’s definitely perfect for fans of Moira Fowley-Doyle.
I have not given The Burning a rating in order to continue with my experiment of reviewing without rating.