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On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm…
Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.
The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.
Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

371 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2020

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About the author

Patrick Ness

40 books18.1k followers
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

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5 stars
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143 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,779 reviews
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
January 12, 2022
I honestly don't know what to do with this book. Finished it yesterday and just couldn't make my mind up about it. It's definitely a Patrick Ness novel in all its originality and weirdness. It reminds me of Release in that two separate stories are being told in one book. And of course, it's gay, even though the blurb might not make it seems that way. My problem, I think, was that there was a disconnect.

I'll try and explain why but I can't guarantee that I'll do a good job. The first thing that properly irritated me were the many POVs. There are at least 12. That's a lot for such a short book. The plot was all over the place and I got really annoyed when I was thrown out of a storyline that had me really invested. I see why Ness did it, but I'm convinced he could have pulled it off with only half as many POVs. You would think that the characters suffered from these very short episodes that we stayed with them, but they were very well-drawn and had the necessary depth to make me care for them (some more than others of course). What did suffer though were the relationships between them, particularly newly established ones that advanced way too quickly. That holds especially true for the gay romance, which failed to convince me.

Now, on the one hand this book is genius. There are very unexpected twists and I've not read anything like it before. It's like one of those film trailers that show you what the story is and make you super curious so you go and watch it in theatres just to find out that you didn't even know the half of it - there's so much more to the film than what was shown in the trailer and your mind is blown (I'm thinking of Kingsman - The Secret Service here). It just didn't work so well here. The fast pace threw me off and when I reached the 50% mark I kept thinking What the fuck is going on? I'm not going to say anything else here because that would spoil everything for you. It got even weirder when that one main character kissed that other minor character. He just kind of lost me there and I really don't understand how that was necessary. If you've read the book you know exactly what scene I'm talking about. Kinda random, kinda pointless.

One last thing I want to mention is the representation: the two main characters are a Black biracial girl and a white gay boy. There's also a Japanese-American love interest and a Guatemalan-American love interest. This book is set in the 1950's and although there might be dragons in this alternate world, racism and homophobia still exist. Overall I believe the representation was good but bear in mind that I'm not an OwnVoices reviewer when it comes to the POC characters. Also, expect xenophobic, racist and homophobic violence, abuse and slurs.

I think this book could have worked with a higher word count. More time to establish the world-building, more space for the characters to develop, more room for the story to breathe and settle. Because this was one wild ride and I believe it might have given me a concussion.

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Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
Want to read
March 16, 2020
so dragons are the new wave?
Profile Image for Becca & The Books.
312 reviews6,316 followers
May 16, 2020
Content Warning in Spoilers -

Patrick Ness weaves dragons into 1950s rural America in his newest YA release.

I really enjoyed the writing and world of this book, I expected the inclusion of dragons in a somewhat recent historical setting to be quite jarring but I liked how they were woven into the world and learning about the background and political structure of a world that humanity has to share with majestic winged beasts.

The downfall of this book for me was the structure, the plot builds toward what feels like the climax of the story but then concludes at the mid way point, only to build up again to the true conflict and resolution. I found that this made section between the middle and final conflict drag as it felt like I was starting a whole new book.

Overall an enjoyable story with an interesting world but not really for me and possibly would be a better movie than a book.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,333 reviews299 followers
April 20, 2020
I'm also a book blogger: Vee_Bookish
(ARC provided by NetGalley, my opinions are unbiased)

You never quite know what to expect from Patrick Ness book, leaving me to believe that he is either a robot controlled by several gnomes, or experimenting with different hallucinogenics. Burn is yet again, another unique book, about Dragons. In 50s America.

It's very much the 50s we know, including the racism, but it has dragons it. Somehow this never feels shoehorned in, it just works seamlessly. We have a full cast of diverse characters, the farm girl, her Japanese boyfriend, the gay assassin coming to kill her, the detectives following the assassin, the giant blue dragon I kinda want to marry? Is that weird?

I definitely thought I knew where this book was going, and then when we started creeping up to the half way point I realised that Malcolm was nearly at the farm, Agent Woolf not far behind, the satellite was wherever the satellite needed to be and basically, everything was leading up to the end I predicted. But it was only half way through.

It takes a lot to surprise me, I'm notorious for not enjoying books because I guess entire plots. But when we hit part two I was blown away and could no longer guess what would happen next, which lead to me running to Waterstones to pre-order myself a signed copy.
Profile Image for Sam.
484 reviews83 followers
June 14, 2020
What a unique, different kind of book. But I expect nothing less from Patrick Ness.

I was intrigued when this was first announced, because Patrick Ness + dragons. And then throw in a prophecy about the end of the world, an assassin, and two FBI agents as well. Strange, right? But strange in the best way possible.

I like how Patrick Ness is able to create such diverse casts of characters, and it’s no different here. For the most part the characters were well developed and felt real. Malcolm was my favourite, because I found his story to be quite interesting with his faith being tested and all.

The plot was weird, like the synopsis promised it would be, and I’m glad. I do wish there had been a bit more dragon stuff, but oh well.

I liked it. I expected to like it. That’s all!

Profile Image for Donna.
541 reviews181 followers
June 6, 2020
I had to stop reading this book at the two thirds mark which I think is plenty far to be able to judge it without forcing myself to read a page more of it. First, let me say that this is the fifth book I’ve read by this author, so I thought I knew what to expect from him. Adding the summary of this book to my expectations, I was ready to read a fantasy story with some depth and social consciousness, one that featured a dragon that might be fearsome, but protective toward a young girl at the center of a world-changing prophecy.

That’s not what I got.

This book is packed with increasing gratuitous violence that turned my stomach and disturbed me by degrees, the farther along it went, especially when in the context of an otherwise rather juvenile YA story. I can’t imagine what age group this book would be aimed at, but definitely not for preteens or perhaps even young teens. As for the dragon, there is very little page time devoted to him from what I read, other characters, some of them minor ones, taking center stage instead of him, quite a few of them unlikable.

It didn’t start off this way when being inclusive and tackling racism, homophobia, and more. But little by little, then with great leaps and bounds, it left behind any depth it might have had in favor of a twisty and twisted story with a murky prophecy that even the characters couldn’t understand. Then at the halfway mark and beyond, the story devolved into a gleeful bloodbath with one improbable plot point following another. It became impossible to understand any of it with the author throwing away restraint and throwing anything and everything he had ever imagined into the mix, trying to shock the reader rather than appeal to any reason or to the heart. This story was all over the place, concentrating too often on anyone but the main characters, all the characters forced into acting like puppets for the author to stage his over the top train wreck of a story.

I don’t enjoy writing such negative reviews, especially for an author I’ve respected and enjoyed reading in the past, but I’m doing it to warn people in case they think they’ll find a story here with much heart and depth, one focusing on a cool dragon. Look elsewhere if that’s what you want. You won’t find it here.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,032 reviews1,423 followers
July 14, 2020
Dragons are for sale, but only to those poverty-stricken enough to have no other option than to accept their cheap rates for services and deal with their abhorred race. Sarah and her father own a farm and a rare blue dragon may be their only hope for keeping it. Soon, however, it seems this dragon has been sent to them to perform more than just the clearing of a few fields and may be the only hope for humanity’s salvation, in general.

Ness has such a skill for seamlessly blending reality with more fantastical elements and yet maintaining the focus on real-world ambivalence with his running social commentary. Despite the plot being distinctly other-worldly this also opened up historical international conflicts as well as the sexism, racism, and homophobia rampant in this 1950's American setting. How Ness showcased and overcame this xenophobia was extraordinary and my favourite part of the book.

The more fantastical elements were certainly very unique in their conception but my more high-fantasy-loving-self struggled to fully invest in all that occurred, despite appreciating how it was constructed. This was certainly a strong and inventive novel, if not wholly the one for me.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Patrick Ness, and the publisher, Harper Teen, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Giulia.
694 reviews103 followers
August 7, 2020
"Dragon magic is wild."

TW: racism, blood, gore, attempted rape, homophobia, police brutality, bullying, grief

Unpopular Opinion Time ���☕️

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐️

It is with a heavy heart that I am telling you that this time, Patrick Ness missed the mark.
I am a huge fan of his writing style and his storytelling, but this novel did not deliver.

You know when you go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and you fill your plate so much it challenges all the laws of physics?
Yeah, that was this book.
This was a lot™️. This was definitely too much™️.

Burn wanted to tackle too many topics and in doing so, it managed to approximately and superficially handle all of them.

This book tried to do too much.
It was dealing with racism and homophobia and police brutality and prophecies and dragons and multiple universes and war and grief and religion and faith and cults and love and family and godhood and destruction of the world(s) and myths and political intrigues and goddammit mate, is this list ever gonna end?
No, the answer is no. Think about a random topic, and most probably it was present in Burn.
Everything was just too much.

Indeed, it was so much that little to nothing made sense, if I have to be honest. I personally found the story to be messy and fragmented. It did not flow effortlessly and smoothly; it was choppy and overwhelming and confusing.

Actually, let me clarify this point.

The plot itself – the bare bones of the story – made sense. It was also kinda interesting and fast paced. I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons, and I love the intricacies of this world. The inclusion of these wonderful creatures in a historical setting (America in 1957) was unique and captivating.
But with the adding of all the secondary topics and arguments and problems, the plot got covered up, it got muddy; in fact, it suffocated under the weight of all these other topics. It lost its focus and drive.

Another aspect that empasised the choppiness and fragmentation of the story was that there were two (2) distinctive parts with two (2), unfortunately, very similar build-ups. And this characteristic doomed the book, in my opinion, because it felt as if the story, in the second part, was repeating itself and that made for a dragged and boring reading experience.

The fact that the cast of characters was, indeed, a whole freaking cast did not help the overall clarity and smoothness of the book. There were too many people and too many points of views and so everything was bewildering and confusing. And with the introduction of the characters from the parallel universe, things just got worse.
Fam, I told you it was a lot, what were you expecting?

A plus that I have to highlight, though, is how wonderfully diverse the cast of character was. Indeed the main character was a biracial Black girl, the love interest was Japanese-American and another important character was a Guatemalan gay young man. For a book that took place in 1957 America, it was a joy to experience this diversity.

That said, the romance – specifically the one between Nelson and Malcom – came completely out of nowhere, in my opinion, and was definitely too insta-love and not developed enough to be that present and important in the story.

And another thing I strongly did not like was the ending. I thought it was cheap and just too easy. The use of the resurrection trope bothered me to no end and I simply could not get on board with all that.

There is one (1) thing that has to be said: Patrick Ness’ story was definitely unique.
But that did not translate into being a good story.

I am massively disappointed because I was expecting so much more and also because I was highly anticipating this novel.
And that’s because it was Patrick Ness and dragons – a match made in Heaven just for me – and I thought that literally nothing could go wrong with a team such as that one.
Apparently I was wrong because quite literally everything went wrong. And I am really sad about it.

With an intriguing dragon/human political environment and a lovely diverse cast of characters, Patrick Ness hit the mark. But the weak, confusing and messy plot, the convenient ending, the insta-love romance, the abundance of topics (not very well) handled and the too many voices to follow doomed this novel and tainted my overall enjoyment.

"You had to give people lots of room to be who they are if that’s what you expect in return."
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,640 reviews2,559 followers
January 11, 2021
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

Set in 1950s America at a time when humans and dragons co-exist. We meet young Sarah Dewhurst and her father who is waiting for the arrival of a dragon that will help them on their farm, as they are much cheaper than people. The dragon, a Russian Blue named Kazimir is there though to protect Sarah and to save the world.

In Canada, a young teenage ‘Believer’ (Dragon worshippers) called Malcolm has been given orders by his goddess to head to America and to carry out an assassination on someone to stop a war.

FBI Agents Woolf and Dernovich have been given the task of finding the assassin and stopping him after he killed some of their men with the help of a dragon.

This is a cat and mouse chase like no other. Who has been misled and who is really trying to stop a war whether that be between men or men and dragons?

Told in two parts and the third person, Burn is told from various viewpoints. The plot plays out as three separate stories yet interweaves them when the time comes.

Sarah is a sweet young girl who has been brought up by her father alone on their farm since their mother died. To keep the farm and pay off the debts her father needs a bumper crop and harvest and to be able to afford this he hires a dragon.

Kazimir the dragon is a small Russian Blue, not many are seen and certainly not working on a farm. The book might be set in a fantasy world but the racism and bigotry of the 50s are certainly present and the locals don’t like a Blue being close by, he could be a Russian spy. The local police officer already doesn’t like the family as Sarah is of mixed race. He also has an issue with her best friend Jason who is of Japanese descent.

The plot moves along at a decent pace. You get to hear from Malcolm about his mission as he meets a young man on his journey and shares his thoughts and his body with him. You also see the bickering agents as they try to track Malcolm down, yet are always two steps behind him.

You would think that the story would conclude when Malcolm reaches his target, but it doesn’t. This is only partway through and another storyline begins. There were certainly plenty of twists and I wasn’t expecting the book to change the direction the way it did.

Patrick Ness writes unusual stories that are often just outside the real world. He plays with your mind and has you questioning everything you have read and learned as the book progresses. Some may not like this style but I adore weird, strange books that are not the norm, just like this one.
Profile Image for Matthew.
55 reviews24 followers
April 16, 2020
‘We are in the hands of Goddesses and madmen, Sarah Dewhurst.’

‘Burn’ is one of those books where I think it’s best to go into it knowing as little as possible. It’s set in an alternate 1950s America during the Cold War and Sarah Dewhurst’s father has just hired a dragon to help on their farm. The Dragon has motives other than the money he will be paid though, Sarah is mentioned in a prophecy that could mean the end of the world.

I’d argue that there isn’t really a main character in ‘Burn’, it felt to me more like an ensemble book with three main storylines that all had some great characters. Like with many Patrick Ness books these all eventually came together in two really great climaxes which really showed off his ability to write ‘blockbuster’ pieces as well as the intimate character moments that are common in his books. The time period is used to highlight many social issues such as racism which Sarah and her friend Jason experience primarily at the hands of the towns deputy sheriff. I can’t speak for how well this is handled having not experienced this myself but this is not the main focus of these characters stories. The backdrop of the Cold War, particularly the Space Race, play a big part into the plot of ‘Burn’, in my opinion it was an excellent choice in setting.

Another of the storylines follows a boy called Malcolm who has been raised in what is essentially a cult that worships the dragons. He is being sent on a mission that is of vital importance to the cult but there are FBI agents trying to stop him achieving his goal. There was such a great plot twist here I had to take a minute and just sit and think, without spoiling anything it was. So. Good. Malcolm was definitely one of my favourite characters in the book, seeing how his life had been affected by being raised in a cult was really interesting. On his journey he comes across a guy called Nelson and they quickly form an intense relationship which did feel a little bit like insta-love but as it wasn’t the main focus of their story it wasn’t too detrimental and honestly it may not even be reciprocated love given some of the events that happen to them.

Obviously, I could not review this book and not talk about the dragons. There are two main ones in ‘Burn’ and they remain quite mysterious through the book but we slowly learn more about them and their society. The dragon that works on Sarah’s farm in particular was one of the best characters in the book in my opinion, he had a strong sense of duty and was involved in one very satisfying moment which I won’t go into because of spoilers. Both of the dragons played an integral part to the story and the way things ended with the dragons (and many of the characters) just screams out for a sequel.

I have been a big fan of Patrick Ness’ work for a while now and while his books have never disappointed me I feel this has been his best one since ‘More Than This'. The writing, as always, was beautiful and the plot was really intriguing with great twists. ‘Burn’ is definitely one of my favourite books that I’ve read this year. The world and characters that he has created here are so well developed and it has left me wanting more!

Thank you Walker Books for providing a proof copy of ‘Burn’.

+ LGBT+ representation (own voices)
+ Great plot twist
+ Beautiful writing
+ Dragons
Profile Image for Snjez.
734 reviews379 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 4, 2020
dnf @ 70%

I'm giving up. It's too heavy and dark for me at the moment.
Profile Image for Missie ☆.
219 reviews26 followers
July 16, 2020
Ok, so I need to start reading more Patrick Ness books. Like, has his books just been hiding from me or...?

After reading this, I admit I am a little obsessed with dragons. I think a re-binge of "The Dragon Prince" on Netflix is necessary. Or maybe I should re-watch of "How To Train Your Dragon". Toothless is my dream pet, and I won't be satisfied in the pet department until I have one.
Profile Image for Gretchen Rubin.
Author 41 books88.4k followers
April 30, 2021
I loved this young-adult novel: dragons, fate, prophecy, romance, courage, and more.
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
979 reviews499 followers
December 1, 2020
This was not it for Patrick Ness. This was a hell of a hot mess.

Weird story that never really stuck; and that’s coming from someone who has loved his other work. The story was never really established well enough for me to make it believable. Nor was it well thought out and detailed background provided. We just dove in and had to just believe without being given anything to actually believe in.

Characters were okay - all a bit slap dash and whizzed through quickly and nothing really clicked or connected. They were all okay as there wasn’t enough time on each individual character to emotionally connect to any of them.

A big disappointment from someone who is such a big fan.
Profile Image for Kimmylongtime .
858 reviews76 followers
July 1, 2021
Round of applause are in order. The narrator was fabulous. The book was intense and filled with flames I didn’t know were coming. I am so sick of falling deeper in love with everything Patrick Ness. This freaking book rocked and I can’t wait for the next book. Release here we come !!!
Profile Image for Mari.
705 reviews5,005 followers
August 20, 2020

I'm having a hard time processing this one. The premise was wild and engaging, but the plot was convoluted and confusing. The characters were a little empty to me, and I'm not sure what this story was trying to say. There was some commentary via a bigoted deputy in a small town, but those parts just made me uncomfortable, particularly because we get some of the story from this deputy's point of view, and we're mostly told HE'S ANGRY, SEE? Like sure, anger feeds racism, thanks for sharing, I guess. There was also a moment where Ness compared the experience of being black in a small town in 1956 to that of his fictional dragon's experience. It's one of my fantasy pet peeves.

That all said, smaller moments were nice and this idea of several worlds and some having dragons without and some just having humans that are dragons within? Very cool.

A very confused 3 stars for the time being.
1,055 reviews80 followers
May 30, 2020
Oh wow this book was fantastic. It read like a thrilling fast moving film, in fact it should be a film!!!!
It took off on page one and didn’t let up until the last page. I am devastated that I’ve finished it and, as I shut this wonderful book my thoughts were will there be another one? I certainly hope so!!!
Profile Image for Jeannot.
256 reviews1,151 followers
March 21, 2021
Sadly this one didn't work for me. It felt like it was all over the place, and the rape attempt scene was just a no no. It was triggering and felt unnecessary. It's something that I often observe in book as a way to develop a female character, and honestly, I'm not having it anymore. Definitely not a book for me.
Profile Image for Bart Moeyaert.
Author 108 books1,377 followers
July 23, 2020
Je woont met je vader op een boerderij, en de toekomst ziet er niet rooskleurig uit. Je vader is genoodzaakt om een blauwe draak in dienst te nemen die jullie land kan bewerken. Misschien redden jullie het dan tot volgend jaar. In de buurt maken jullie zich niet heel geliefd met zo’n wezen. Dat is een understatement, maar dat zal jullie een zorg zijn.

Met die premise begint ‘Burn’, en in dit geval mag je ‘beginnen’ heel letterlijk nemen. Je hebt al drie personages leren kennen van waaruit Patrick Ness je het hele verhaal uit de doeken zal doen. Je hebt er nog een paar tegoed, en met een paar bedoel ik: bijna tien. Je hoeft het ook niet met deze ene premise te stellen, trouwens. Er zit nog meer vlees aan het bot.

In een actiefilm werkt het geweldig goed, verschillende verhaallijnen en scènes die kort/kort/langer/lang/kort duren. Ze geven het geheel ritme. Ze zorgen voor spanning en voortgang. In ‘Burn’ stoorden de verschillende verhaallijnen en het korte/korte/langere/lange/korte me op den duur. Dan was ik eens een paar bladzijden in het gezelschap van een van de vele personages en bleek ik weer te moeten switchen naar een geheel ander personage en een andere drive, zonder dat ik een verandering van kleur hoorde.

Aan het eind van het eerste deel (dat las als het scenario van de film die ze ooit van ‘Burn’ zullen maken) wist ik nog steeds niet met wie ik moest meevoelen. Juist omdat dit verhaal zich in de jaren vijftig afspeelt, en Patrick Ness de Koude Oorlog als spanningselement in het verhaal meeneemt, ben ik verloren gelopen. Ik verlangde naar een specifieke toon, of op z’n minst een kleiner aantal specifieke vertelstemmen. Nu kwam dit boek bijna op geen enkel moment dichtbij.

Je krijgt veel voor de voeten gegooid als je ‘Burn’ leest. Als iemand me naar dit verhaal over Sarah en Malcolm (om het aantal personages even te beperken) had helpen kijken, zou ik blij zijn geweest. Dan had ik dit boek anders verteerd. Het botte geweld, de homofobie, het racisme, of nee, doe maar meteen de xenofobie maken deel uit van ‘Burn’, juist om er na het lezen van het boek over te discussiëren. Naar mijn smaak wordt het nu op zo’n manier geserveerd dat ik er geen tweede bord van neem en ik op zoek ga naar andere voorbeelden om het over deze thema’s te hebben.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,122 reviews817 followers
May 14, 2020
Sometimes you just have to feel bad about a thing. Sometimes that's the only thing that makes you human.

On my blog.

Actual rating 4.5

Rep: biracial (Black, white) mc, Japanese American mc, gay mc, Guatemalan Canadian gay mc

CWs: period typical racism and homophobia, blood, gore, violence

Galley provided by publisher

It would be fair to say Patrick Ness ranks as one of my favourite authors ever. I’m not sure, in the almost ten years I’ve been reading his books, I’ve ever disliked a book he has written. And this book does not break that streak.

Burn combines the best of Ness’ works - a world much like our own but with one fantastical aspect, characters you’ll love, and a storyline that will have you completely engrossed. I read Burn in a single sitting in a couple of hours, it’s that good.

Probably the best thing about this book, as with most Patrick Ness books, is the characters. They are a particularly varied cast in this one, from a Russian Blue dragon, to a religious assassin who finds love and thus changes the course of history. It honestly feels the most creative of Ness’ books in that respect.

Combined with that is the fact that gay love, not straight love, is what causes the whole “change in the course of history” in this book. I know, it seems like a small thing, but after so many books where it’s straight love that saves the day, this feels like a breath of fresh air.

All of which means that you should definitely pick this book up. You won’t regret it.
Profile Image for bookellenic.
228 reviews81 followers
June 3, 2020
Full review on my blog.
Instagram | Twitter| Facebook

3.5/5 rounded up to 4 stars.
Would I suggest you reading it? Yes.

I often want to rate Patrick Ness book slightly more than I end up doing, but I keep on reading his books, so I guess there is something there. I'm just always left... Wanting a bit more.
This time, its message turned out to be eerily prophetic and at the same time displaying patterns and behaviours that have been happening since the dawn of humankind.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,138 reviews1,009 followers
June 3, 2020
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

ME:  Eh I don't know if I like dragons, but it's Patrick Ness so let's try.

ME, AFTER: Wow so I love dragons and obviously Patrick Ness.

There is SO much that I loved about this book that I cannot even tell you for the sake of spoilers. Places I did not see things going. And like, it's seriously SO GREAT so can you just trust me? Awesome thanks. Here's what I can tell you:

►Alternate 1957. I mean, some things are very similar! We're in some kind of nuclear standoff with Russia, but President Aaron Burr is on the $20. And there are, you know, dragons. Who help out on farms, because of course they do. And cults that worship dragons, and people who don't like dragons, and you know, examples that humanity will clearly never change.
"He was the thing the world had suffered from most in her four billion years of existence: a stupid man with power."

►The prophecy ends up being a real trip- both literally and figuratively. Literally for Malcolm, the young cult fellow who's supposed to be taking out Sarah, at the center of the prophecy, and figuratively for Sarah, her father, and her wonderful best-friend-with-benefits, Jason. Not only are they dealing with dwindling farm production and a new dragon, they're dealing with a very heavy dose of racist bullshit from the local police (holy relevancy), but now they've somehow found themselves at the epicenter of dragon cult prophecies.

►Okay I know this sounds completely bonkers, and it is, but in the best possible way. I promise it all makes sense when you read it! It isn't just weird for the sake of weirdness or anything. The world building is fabulous, and every single bit of what goes down is thought provoking and full of very timely and applicable messages.

►It is also just an incredible story with twists that I didn't see coming at all. Yeah, there's nothing more to say except I never wanted to put this book down and now I love it, the end.

Bottom Line: Patrick Ness strikes again, with a unique story so wholly and completely relevant while remaining wildly entertaining.
Profile Image for Annette.
2,599 reviews118 followers
July 8, 2020
And once more Book Box Club got me a book that I wouldn't have bought myself. Of course, I had seen this book on the internet already. I know quite a few people who were really looking forward to this one and I came across it while making my wishlist for June. However, for some reason this book didn't really speak to me and I don't know why. Sometimes it happens. I read a blurb and somehow I kinda know that it's not gonna be my new favorite book.

Let me start this review with saying that this is a total and absolute case of "it's me and not the book". I think that this book does a lot of things right and I'm pretty sure that someone who's not me can find this their favorite book. Most of all because the plot is quite nice AND most of all really well done. There is a very clear goal from the start and along the way more and more questions are answered and more and more pieces of the puzzle revealed.

The pacing of the story is on top of that really nice too. There is constantly something happening and the characters are constantly on the move. There is not one dull moment, the story never stands still, it also doesn't go in circles. And all the pieces of the puzzle also come really nicely together in the finale. If you're the kind of reader who enjoys a nice plot with loads of action this is totally the book for you.

However, I'm a character and emotion reader. I read to feel. I read to make new friends. I read to fall in love. I am totally willing to forgive a less great plot if the characters are amazing (you might have seen a few of those 5 star reviews where I do admit the plot isn't even that good...), but if I don't feel that connection with the characters, whether it's because they remind me of myself or because I fall in love with them, a good plot can't save the book. And that was actually the case here.

The book reads like filmscript, actually. We know exactly what all the characters do, how they act and what they say. But when it comes to their deeper emotions, their true longings and wishes, we don't get that much. It's probably not the kind of story for that, it's most certainly not what the author was going for. It's just something I like in my books. So, like I already said: A classic case of it's not the book, it's me.
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