Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Review: Burn by Paula Weston
Title: Burn (Rephaim, #4)
Author: Paula Weston
Rating: 4 Stars
Note: This review is SPOILER-FREE for the entire series. You can read my reviews for the previous novels in this series, Shadows, Haze, and Shimmer by following the links.
Since I read the first cliffhanger ending of Shadows, I've been complaining about anxiously waiting for and theorizing about this series, time and time again. With each new installment, Weston both managed to soothe my fears and build them up within the span of a few hundred pages, leaving me desperate for the next installment right now. The one where I'd finally have the answers to all my questions.
And, here it is. Burn.
But, now that I actually do have all the answers to my questions, answered beyond satisfactorily, I am beginning to realize what a privilege it was to have Weston's cliffhangers living with me for a year. I can remember waking up, still six months prior to the release of Weston's next novel in this series, and just lying in bed turning over all the possibilities and burning questions and unsolved mysteries. And now, with this series at an end, I am unbearably sad that I won't be tossing and turning at night, thinking of these characters as I used to. Yet, I got what I wanted, didn't I? As they say, be careful what you wish for. It turns out, all these years, what I really wanted wasn't actually the missing pieces of the puzzle (although, believe me, I'm not complaining that I have them now!) but actually more from Paula Weston. Now.
Weston's debut quartet has been a series like no other. It's the type of collection of novels that are filled with tropes--twins, lost memories, manipulation--but they're all done so well that instead of rolling your eyes, you're actually sitting on the edge of your seat. Weston makes you lose your heart to her characters, each flawed and guilty in their own way, but she also makes you root for them and care about them so, so deeply. Burn completes the metamorphosis that her characters have been undergoing since Shadows, giving us the maturity we've been vying for and the answers we've been craving.
I wasn't sure how Burn would be written--a series of flashbacks, an extended flashback and then the present day?--but I really enjoyed how Weston structured this novel and the flow of it traveled seamlessly from flashbacks to present day and back again. It wasn't jarring, as I imagined, and I further appreciated that Weston took her time revealing these answers to us. Moreover, the true strength of this novel lies not in how cleverly the true answers were interspersed in the previous installments but, rather, in how these characters deal with the truth and accept their fate.
Burn may be Young Adult Fantasy but it ticks off so many contemporary boxes--parental relationships, female friendships, familial ties, sibling issues--that it truly shines in any genre it's placed into. What's more, Weston leaves us with the type of ending that ties up loose ends and leaves readers smiling but in such a way that there is more, here, if she should choose to return to this world and its people.
It's always difficult to review a finale because--spoilers!--but rest assured that fans of this series will not be disappointed by its ending. For those of you who haven't picked up these books yet, I cannot encourage you enough to do so. They're so much more than expert plot and world-building; they're about finding best friends in these characters and re-visiting them, years down the line, when the plot has faded away into memory but the distinct feeling of these characters and the comfort they provide have not. Although I will say that I found a plot element or two to be explained a little too conveniently--I always despise long paragraphs of revelations--overall, this was a near-perfect novel and a near-perfect series. All I can ask for is all I've been begging from Paula Weston always. More. Now.