I read Burn Bright because I’ve read some great reviews and a while back it was a really hot book – I saw it everywhere, the concept was being talked up, blogs were raving about it. This is mostly what makes we want to read a book, and inevitably how I make most of my reading choices – word of mouth, other reviews. Blogging has been so awesome for discovering great books – what a great platform for authors and publishers. And while for the most part I can see what made everyone rave about Burn Bright, I was left with the lingering sense that I just don’t think it’s suitable for a YA audience.
As a work of adult fiction, I think MdP could have made a really fantastic, controversial read. And although the writing in Burn Bright is not too ‘in your face’ or erotic, the ideas behind it, what it suggests, is not something I would market to a YA audience. I’m not a prudish person by nature, but the idea of an island devoted to ‘pleasure’, and most of it sexual, plus some of the acts that occur, just didn’t sit comfortably with me. If I came across this book in my high school library and started reading it I would have felt like I had something to hide.
I would certainly not classify Burn Bright as ‘bad’ – putting aside my main concerns, the writing is okay, although sometimes the dialogue is a bit stiff. Apart from the sexy stuff, there are a lot of other good plot points going on (sometimes almost too much, to the point where I couldn’t keep track of all the different groups). The setting is used well, it is really the stuff dream stories are made from – all those caverns and temples and hidden paths and shadowy places – awesome. I also really liked the idea that when people get too old they get taken away, and the later reveal of what happens to them is shocking in the best kind of way. Like I said, some really clever, wonderful stuff to be found. With a slightly different slant on it, I would have loved this book.
Also, points to MdP for writing a book driven by a brother/sister relationship. A lot of the YA I read, the main relationship is driven by romantic love. Sibling love, I think, always goes a little deeper. I really wanted Retra to find her brother, and could have done with just this rather than the little romantic sub-plot that was thrown in.
A decent read, interesting, although not one I would reccommend for parents or teacher-librarians.