Monday, June 8, 2015

Burning Kingdoms

by Lauren DeStefano

Summary From GoodReads

Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

Thoughts on the Book

I'm a big fan of Lauren, I absolutely loved her Chemical Garden trilogy, and I loved Perfect Ruin.  Not to mention she's an awesome person and we had a book geek-out at a mutual friend's wedding.  Yep, we were sat at the same table at a wedding, it was awesome, her friend did start groaning when we got on the YA subject though, I guess Lauren will go on and on about books given half a chance.  All that being said I was super excited for this book to come out, but life got in the way and I was only able to read it recently, months after it was released.

Another note on the book, what the hell happened to the covers?  Perfect Ruin was awesome, the wheels and the stars, the trinkets and the flames from the burning were all so beautiful and symbolic and fit with the story.  The stupid porcelain figurines that are being shattered?  So dumb.  I get it, there's like two sentences in Burning Kingdoms where Morgan realizes that everything is shattered and there are pieces missing which were what the cover artist was drawing on, but it's just dumb and ruins the feel of the story.  That old adage - don't judge a book on it's cover - I usually disagree, I've picked many a book based solely on it's cover, but it is 100% true with this series.  Don't judge it based on the cover, it is SO much better than the cover.  Honestly, throw the dust jacket away, you'll like the books even better!

My Review

Burning Kingdoms starts immediately when Perfect Ruin ends, the group had just gotten out of the bird into a blizzard with people surrounding them.  Most of the book is about Morgan and Pen adjusting to the ground world as well as Morgan's relationship with Celeste.  Towards the end the plot began to move forward again.  It was a pretty typical book two, lots of exposition to get the reader to understand the characters and world more so the conclusion will have more of an impact.

This book was a slow read for me, it was difficult to get back into all the characters, there's such a large cast I couldn't keep who's who straight.  I had to stop around chapter 3 to pull out Perfect Ruin and skim through it just to get the characters straight in my mind.  Once I did that I was wondering where certain characters where.  Judas, Amy, and Thomas weren't even mentioned until quite a few chapters in.  

I enjoyed the ground world and the fact that there is a sort of magic there, or at least mystical creatures.  The fact that mermaids are a nuisance is awesome, they'll jump out of the water and steal whatever shiny object you're holding, and if they drown you in the process of getting said shiny object, so be it.  They're like the crows of the ocean.

I also enjoyed the religion aspect of it.  How the group from Internment begin to realize that their belief in the Sky God isn't 100% truth, the people from the ground don't believe in him and they have their own gods and rituals that they perform, and these rituals, though bizarre, aren't necessarily wrong.  Even the death rituals, the Interment group was shocked and horrified to see a graveyard, they felt bad for the ground's dead, they were trapped in the ground with no way to be released, unlike their dead who are cremated and set free in the sky.  Throughout the book they're worried about dying on the ground and having their remains be trapped there.  But after attending a funeral Morgan comes to realize that the prayer that is said is what set's the person free, not the act of burying them.  Amy also acknowledges that the ground's treatment of the dead isn't all that bad.  Upon seeing a graveyard for the first time she told Morgan that she liked the idea of being able to go somewhere to talk to whomever had died, even if it is just a stone.

The one thing that bothered me with the world and its similarities to ours is The Text.  The religious stories that Birdie tells are a unique religion for the ground.  Yet, when Pen starts reading The Text it's clear that the text is the bible, she references Noah's Arc, Genesis, and a few others.  If Birdie hadn't told her stories first I would have been more excepting of The Text, but there's a clear mythology that is vastly different from the Bible, so vastly different that Birdie tells of 4 Gods that the people of the ground believe in, but in the Text/the Bible there is only one God.  If The Text is not the Bible, then there is no indication of it, only references to similarities. 

I enjoyed this book, although it's my least favorite book that Lauren's written, I just wish there had been less about Pen turning into an alcoholic, and more on the political side of things.  The more I got to know the characters the more I hated Pen, she's a complete waste of space, and the more I liked Celeste, she at least has a purpose and strives to achieve her goals and she's actually nice to everyone - aka she's a decent person.

Overall I give this book a 8/10, it sadly fell into the second book of a trilogy trap, but I still can't wait for Broken Crowns to come out.

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