Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Posted 10 September, 2012 by Heather in Blog, Featured, Heather, Heather Book Review / 14 Comments

Burn for Burn (#1 of 3)

(Goodreads, Amazon)

by Jenny Han

(Goodreads, Amazon, Website)

and Siobhan Vivian

(Goodreads, Amazon, Website)

Published September 18, 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Copy obtained at BEA 2012

Payback is paradise in this start to a trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an unlikely alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently…” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

My Thoughts:

Burn for Burn was one of those books that I’d heard the authors speak about at several events during BEA this year, with Jenny Han stopping by our table at the Book Blogger Convention and Siobhan Vivian speaking on a panel at the YA event that we attended one night at a library. They were able to pique my interest, so I made sure to line up in the signing line for an ARC of this book. And I am glad that I got a chance to get this in New York.

This book is told up close and personal in first person point of view, alternating between the three main characters. Kat was once best friends with both Lillia and Rennie–until Rennie decided that there was no more room for Kat. Still reeling from her mother’s death a few years earlier, Kat has hardened and is dealing with life by being one tough chick that is rough around the edges. She’s been able to brush off popular girl Rennie’s barbs and rumors until she just can’t take them anymore on the first day of senior year, and then she snaps.

Lillia lives a rich life of privilege–expensive clothes, popularity, a doting little sister, best friends Rennie. But when something happens to her at a drunken party, she’s changed forever. When she thinks her sister is going down the same path–with her friend Alex no less–Lillia vows to step in and prevent the same things from happening. Mary left Jar Island four years earlier after being bullied mercilessly, but now she’s returned to take back her life.

Burn for Burn pairs three girls together who seemingly have nothing in common, except for the need for revenge on the people who have wronged them. Kat wants to get back at her ex-best friend Rennie for making her life a living hell. Lillia wants to make Alex stay away from her little sister, and Mary wants to show her bully that she’s still standing. The three girls scheme, destroy property, drug, and defame people to get revenge on their first target throughout half of this book.

The characters in Burn for Burn had realistic, distinct, and interesting voices. Kat was rough and tumble while Lillia was delicate and reserved, and Mary was somber, withdrawn and completely self-conscious. As each of their backstories and motivations for revenge were revealed, you could imagine their unique histories and situations. The contemporary aspects of this book were spot on, which brings me to what didn’t fit in–the supernatural elements. Towards the last third or so of the book, weird things centered around one character start to happen, but they stuck out so much in contrast with the contemporary writing of the book. It just made these things jarring and stick out that much more. Hopefully this won’t be so blatantly out of place in book two.

When I read this, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a standalone book and is actually book one of a trilogy. The ending is very abrupt, and the cliffhanger is severe. I’m not sure if it’s just because I have an ARC and maybe things have changed in the final version of the book. There are a lot of questions left unanswered, and some things could have been wrapped up to at least have a bit more of a satisfying ending to book one.

I give Burn for Burn a 3.5 out of 5. It was an entertaining contemporary read with paranormal aspects that unfortunately stick out more than they should have. Three girls are hell-bent on getting revenge, and luckily for us (unluckily for them) things don’t go so smoothly in their quest. They go too far with some of their plans, and they haven’t even really started in on Mary and Kat’s targets yet.  I’m looking forward to book two in this series.



I’m a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days–whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son’s Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun.

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14 Responses to “Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian”

    • I think you’ll be able to enjoy this book a lot more than I did, Lori. I really liked it, but the ending really made me scratch my head with the weird paranormal elements and the abrupt ending. If I would have known that this was book one of a trilogy, I think this would have read a bit differently. But it was still a great read.
      Heather recently posted..Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan VivianMy Profile

    • The paranormal elements were so few and far between in Burn for Burn that they really stuck out when they did show up later in the book. I really hope that it isn’t so jarring in book two in this series. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda!

  1. I read this one not too long ago but it’s already faded quite a lot from my memory. I remember there was a light paranormal aspect but I don’t even remember what it was. And I don’t remember the end at all. I do remember the characters though and I think I enjoyed them fairly well. I’ll have to look and see what I rated it because it’s pretty bad that I’ve forgot so much of it. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it though and I think I probably gave it 4 stars. Perhaps 3.5 would be more accurate…
    Candace recently posted..Review & Giveaway: Speechless by Hannah HarringtonMy Profile

    • The majority of this book was contemporary, Candace, and it was pretty good. But it seemed a bit skewed toward just getting revenge on one guy, and when I thought it was a stand alone and I got to the end, I was pretty confused. I’m still not sure why there was even a paranormal aspect in there, to be honest. I don’t see why it was needed for that character. Her story is tragic enough without adding that in the mix.
      Heather recently posted..And The Winner of the Sweet Hope Contest is…. My Profile

    • This book is really light on the paranormal and heavy on the contemporary, Jenea. I’m not sure if book two will focus more on the paranormal aspects, especially considering how the dance at the end of the book goes down, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out. Burn for Burn is still a great read, but a bit clunky towards the ending.
      Heather recently posted..And The Winner of the Sweet Hope Contest is…. My Profile

    • I’m glad that I’m not the only one who didn’t like the ending, Annette. It was like they just decided to cut it off and leave the rest for the next book. It felt very unfinished, and I hoped that it was just because my copy was an ARC, but I have a feeling that was just the way they ended the book. Definitely not a satisfying ending in my book. At least I’m having the same issues that many people have had with this book, but I did enjoy it overall and I will be reading the second book when it comes out next year. I’ll be checking out your review tomorrow!
      Heather recently posted..Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan VivianMy Profile

  2. I loved Jenny Han’s Summer series but this one, I don’t know. I’m going to give it a chance, but I didn’t realize there were paranormal aspects to it. I thought this was straight on contemporary. I think that would work better. I guess each victim gets a book right? I hate cliffies and abrupt unfinished endings. At least I’m aware of it now.

    Thanks for the review, now I know what to look for and maybe have more realistic expectations.

    hrose2931 recently posted..Silver by Talia Vance ReviewMy Profile

    • I thought it was a straight up contemporary too, Heather. Every single thing that The authors said about it at BEA was about it being contemporary, and I guess they wanted the small paranormal aspect (and I mean very small in this book) to be a surprise.

      I’m guessing that each target gets a book, but I’m not sure. This was a very entertaining and quick read. I finished it in about three or four hours, and I do plan on continuing with this series when the next book comes out. The writing is great, it’s just some of the aspects in the storytelling that could have been a bit better thought out.
      Heather recently posted..Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan VivianMy Profile

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