Vicky Who Reads's Reviews > Nothing Left to Burn

Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, wishlist

5 stars

Taking place over 16 intense hours, Heather Ezell's debut, Nothing Left to Burn tells the story of sixteen-year-old Audrey who is navigating her tumultuous and all-consuming relationship while also juggling her family's evacuation from the path of a deadly wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California.

Audrey not only wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, but also with the secrets from her boyfriend's past coming to light and the danger lurking behind her feelings and the fire in the distance.


I totally was not expecting to like this so much--honestly, I assumed it was like a lot of other contemporaries until I read the word "wildfire" and caved into requesting it on First to Read. (Because wildfires are exciting! I mean, boo, wildfires.)

It just--it all came together really nicely and it also built up really well and I could see the symbolism and parallels within the novel while it was also a very entertaining read.

I had to physically stop myself from bingeing it all in 2 hours, cutting myself off because it was already midnight and I had to wake up at 6 am. But you better bet your whole bookshelf that one of the first things I did that morning was keep reading.

Not only was it very enjoyable to read and I was definitely entertained by the plot and pacing and just intensity of the story, but I could see how Ezell worked the novel to slowly reveal tidbits while simultaneously growing Audrey's character (I did forget her name, but semantics).

At first you think it's just a wildfire and just a boyfriend, but it grows into so much more. The boyfriend has a past. The boyfriend has a dark past. The boyfriend is obsessed with fire.

Seriously, this book was on fire not only with the recurring theme of burning/fire/flames/ashes, but also just the parallels in it and how it grew more thrilling as you read on.

It's told from Audrey's POV, but it cycles in between what's happening now and things from the past (like when she first met her boyfriend Brooks). Sometimes when there's multiple POVs or there's multiple times, I get confused at what I'm reading because I don't pay too much attention to the title (Thursday and 5:51 AM are just words to me).

But I was able to easily distinguish what point in time the story was from, and I think that's one of this story's biggest wins in helping the reader distinguish between what's happening when without the need for chapter titles. Whether it was because of how Ezell structured the sentences or the tone or mood or atmosphere, she managed to successfully convey what was happening without the need for chapter titles, which was awesome for me to read.

Also, the plot just gets so intense and this mimics how the forest fire gets more intense and I just love all the connections between everything. It's like all the parts of the novel are progressing at the same rate--even though the backstory, fire, and character development happen at different points in time & with different mental states for Audrey.

It ended up feeling very cohesive and that's just part of why I loved this. Also, the thriller aspect (the wildfire is suspected to be a product of arson...) was super entertaining and I just thoroughly enjoyed the plot (I never really understood the true effect and what happens during a wildfire and I'm moved by Ezell's portrayal.)

I also really like the relationships in this novel--whether it was friends or family or talking about toxic relationships (dangerous feelings, a boy consuming your life, etc.) It all had a very good message and I liked how Ezell was very honest about Audrey's views on sex despite her family's insistence on abstinence.

If I had to pick out something that could have used more work, I'd probably just say where the chapters ended and where the book ended. Sometimes it ended a little abruptly with a cliffhanger, like in Empress of a Thousand Skies, and then picked up on a less intense moment and at times it felt a little bit like a cop out or a way to avoid writing those really intense scenes. Also, it did end a lot sooner than I wanted it to because things happen at the end that are super ASDFKLJDLS. But I can definitely see why Ezell ended everything this way, and so this isn't really something that needs to change.

Overall, I had an amazing time reading this book and was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I would definitely recommend this to everyone--lovers of contemporary or sci-fi or fantasy--because of the awesome character-based themes found in contemporaries that balances the action and intensity commonly found in SFF.

Thank you to Penguin Teen/First to Read for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Vicky Who Reads
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Reading Progress

January 24, 2018 – Shelved
January 24, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 1, 2018 – Started Reading
March 1, 2018 –
page 275
85.94% "Wow this is really really good so far. I'm really loving this and it's definitely going to be a new favorite!"
March 2, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites
March 2, 2018 – Finished Reading
February 7, 2019 – Shelved as: wishlist

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