Book Review: Burned, Ellen Hopkins

Burned (Burned, #1)Burned by Ellen Hopkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious — yet abusive — family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.

This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers — about God, a woman’s role, sex, love — mostly love. What is it? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?

It’s with a real boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. After Pattyn’s father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn’t know.

Pattyn is supposed to find salvation and redemption during her exile to the wilds of rural Nevada. Yet what she finds instead is love and acceptance. And for the first time she feels worthy of both — until she realizes her old demons will not let her go. Pattyn begins down a path that will lead her to a hell — a hell that may not be the one she learned about in sacrament meetings, but it is hell all the same.

In this riveting and masterful novel told in verse, Ellen Hopkins takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride. From the highs of true love to the lows of abuse, Pattyn’s story will have readers engrossed until the very last word.


Well. That was a downer.

Burned was just unfortunate event after unfortunate event, and after a while, it was just depressing rather than interesting. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or the poetry, and while I don’t know a lot about Mormons, I’m not sure that’s how many act.

With the major lack of dialogue, the characters fell very flat. I would have been able to connect with them much more if their emotions had been showed more, but in the poetry, they felt like cardboard cutouts. Just one major personality trait each, and nothing more. Pattyn was considerably more realistic, but I still couldn’t connect with her.

Added to that, Aunt J’s stories about her past could have been interesting and emotional, but instead, because of the way they were written, they felt very flat and…dry. I didn’t really feel anything throughout the entire book, let alone that sequence.

The ending felt kind of forced, just to make Pattyn snap and do something terrible to get out of her life. I don’t think it was necessary, and what could have been a better ending turned into nothing more than a tragedy.

Honestly, this book just made me tired. There’s no other word for how I feel right now.

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