“Burn,” is the sequel to “Scan” by Walter Jury (pen name for Pouya Shahbazian) and Sarah Fine, and both books bring up an interesting question. What if creatures from another planet invaded Earth hundreds of years ago? And they successfully intermingled with humans so much that there’s only a very small percentage of the population that is purely human.
The protagonist of both books is Tate. His father raised him to be the best at everything — sports, languages, chemistry, history. But he never felt that his father truly respected him. So when he steals a sword-like invention of his father’s from his father’s secret laboratory, he doesn’t imagine that that simple act will nearly cause the end of the world as we know it.
“Scan” ends with a cliffhanger, and “Burn” takes up with just as much action and danger as the first book. Fine wrote for “The Page 69 Test” (blog) (read the 69th page of a book and see if it reflects the whole book) about page 69 in “Burn.” She said:
I think page 69 of Burn is very nicely representative of the entire book. Here we have Tate, our main character, in a really tight spot—he’s seemingly at the mercy of an enemy who has him drugged and shackled to a chair. But even here, we see him analyzing his surroundings, both the logistical and concrete as well as the emotional—he’s in the process of trying to figure out this young agent named Graham—and all this information will be useful to him in the pages that follow.”
Tate is a member of one of the Fifty families, the fifty families whose blood has remained pure through the centuries by carefully selected alliances. His girlfriend, Christina, is not. And the scanner that Tate’s father invented using the alien technology shows who is human and who is not. Humans scan blue and H2 (the alien-human hybrids) scan red. But when someone scans orange — the mystery deepens.
It’s up to Tate to infiltrate his father’s lab and find his secrets before the real threat arrives. He must use the clues his father gave him on his deathbed and try to figure it all out. Why is the scanner so important? What did his father do with the alien technology his family found centuries earlier?
The authors do a great job keeping the characters real (well, as real as could be imagined in this winner-take-all non-stop action story). Tate’s character matures and develops throughout the story, and his relationship with Christina also gels as together they fight to save themselves and the world.
The story deals with issues of prejudice, albeit the prejudice of humans against the H2 — until they realize that there may be a deadly alien on the way. There are thoughtful discussions of father-son relationships and how to handle loss. Trust, respect and forgiveness are also important themes in the story.
But above all? It’s just lots and lots of fun. The story never stops to take a breath, so the reader is forced to keep reading, keep turning the pages until the very end. Then pause and exhale. The ride is over. And what a ride.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Putnam, for review purposes.
Follow the National Book Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.
If you would like to continue receiving book reviews, including information about author appearances, author interviews and giveaways, please click the “Subscribe” icon. It’s free and anonymous. Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing this article with others.