Book Review

Burn By Patrick Ness | Book Review

Hey Everyone! My name is Max and I will be reviewing a novel christened Burn by Patrick Ness today! If you do not know who Patrick Ness is, he is the author of The Chaos Walking trilogy which comprises of The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and The Answer and Monsters of Men. He has also written A Monster Calls, More than this and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Burn is the latest novel he had written and published.

I would like to thank Definitely Books for sending a copy of this novel to me in exchange for a review!

Well, without further ado, let us get into this review!


On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm…

Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.


Before we commence this review, I would like to state that Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors of all time. Although this novel is not his most immeasurable work to date, it is still entertaining and fun. It does not have that emotional punch that A Monster Calls and Monster of Men have but it has cardinal topics on racial inequality and sexual orientation and I wish Patrick Ness had veered in that direction of the story instead of what has actually transpired in the story but we will speak more on that later on.

“He was the thing the world had suffered from most in her four billion years of existence: a stupid man with power.” – Burn, Patrick Ness.

Patrick Ness’ writing style is freaking beautiful. The way he weaves one sentence to the next and the word choices are astounding. He allows the story to flow seamlessly with his writing and it certainly feels like silk reading his books and Burn is no different. I will provide a quote below for you to witness the beauty of it yourself: 

“Prophecy is slippery, dangerous, open to fatal misinterpretation.” – Burn, Patrick Ness.

However, towards the third quarter of the novel, the writing style does not feel as natural as the first two quarters. Perhaps the perspective from the Goddess makes the writing style asperous due to a plethora of exclamation points used. I thought that the Goddess’s perspective could have been completely discarded from the novel or the author should have made her more of a villain instead because she literally confabulates like an eight-year-old trying to destroy her brother’s Lego set. Thank you, next.

The pacing for this novel is flawless. It does not dawdle too long on a scene or breeze right through a scene like nobody’s business. I read it in a few days and it kept me entertained throughout the days that I was reading it. If you want something that you can read in a few days, you should pick this book up.

The characters in this novel consist of Kazimer (the Russian dragon), Malcolm, Sarah, Jason and Sarah’s father. I delight in the fact that the parents of the teenage characters except Malcolm’s are actively present in the story because usually, parents are absent in YA books which does not make any sense whatsoever. Therefore, I am delighted to tell you that they have huge roles in this novel.

Kazimer is hired by Sarah’s father to help with the farm as they are running out of money to maintain the farm and he thought that he could trick the dragon with the payment, therefore, he pays one-quarter of the agreed value before the work inaugurates to make the dragon trust him. Although it might seem that Sarah’s father is deceitful, he is not. He is very loving and protective of his daughter. His character growth up until he [spoiler] is very conspicuous.

My favourite perspective is from Malcolm. Initially, he is an assassin from a dragon cult and he is assigned to kill this girl from the farm – Sarah – to “save” the world. Well, without spoiling anything, I would like to say that I love his relationship with Nelson even though it is pretty insta-lovey but I would disregard that because I like the way they converse and how both of them teach each other to love. Malcolm has an exponential character growth throughout the novel, he learns from his mistakes and decides to go against the lies he has been fed and ultimately, becoming a hero.

Sarah and Jason have solid characterization but it is a little more slumbrous compare to Malcolm’s characterization. The discussion on racism revolves around Sarah and Jason. Sarah is mixed race – half black, half white – and Jason is a Japanese. The amount of racial attack they got from people in town is enraging. Jason is brave and Sarah is headstrong. These two characters did not really grow as much as I would have loved to see, they pretty much remain congruent throughout the novel.

The discussions on topics like racism, interracial marriage and sexual orientation are some of the most fascinating parts of the book. If you take out the dragons and the urban fantasy elements, these topics will illuminate the most in the book. If the story were to diverge more into this direction, it would probably gain more accolades from me because I love discussions on these topics and the author shows that he is capable of handling these topics well in this novel. For example, under sexual orientation, there is self-loathing as the characters could not love the way they wanted due to societal “views” which infuriates me because people should be able to love whoever they want. Under interracial marriage and racism, there is negative stereotyping, open hostility and intimidation and isolation. I absolutely adore the way the topics are handled in this novel and I hope the author would write more stories on these topics without the fantasy elements in the future.

In conclusion, my final verdict for this novel is 70% (B). I did enjoy some parts of this but there are also several segments that I did not particularly enjoy. I will still read Release which was his 2019 release by the end of this year and a review will head your way soon for that. 

This is the end of my review for Burn By Patrick Ness! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!

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