Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Smoke

Smoke (Burned, book two)
By Ellen Hopkins
Published 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead. To read my review of the first book, go here.

The road that Pattyn started on, the one that led her away from her family and to love, has taken her even farther off course than she could have imagined. Now, she is in hiding, living a life she never wanted as she tries to deal with the tragedies that led her here. Meanwhile, her sister Jackie is left to deal with their family and the consequences that have impacted them. Will the sisters find their way to peace? Will they ever be able to see each other again?

Burned was the only Ellen Hopkins book I hadn't read when I went to my first ALA conference a few years back, so I purchased a copy and devoured it. I was disappointed when I discovered there would be a sequel, as I thought it stood well on its own (plus, I'm completely getting series burnout). Well, the sequel has arrived and, of course, I was going to read it, whether I wanted it to exist or not. I basically cannot resist an Ellen Hopkins book. So, what did I think?

Well, I still think Burned could have worked as a standalone. However, it's not hard to get sucked into a Hopkins novel. She just has a way of grabbing you and pulling you into the story. I'm not sure the story here was as strong as in the first. I really liked the exploration of religion in the first and that's pretty much abandoned in this sequel. There is some discussion of it with Jackie's story, which may be one of the reasons why I actually liked Jackie's story better than Pattyn's. Additionally, I felt the storyline with the daughter of the family Pattyn works for to be tacked on and not fully developed. I like the idea of Hopkins showing hope after grief, but it seemed pretty cheesy to me that Pattyn would find someone else so quickly.

Overall, I was underwhelmed with this book, but I'll continue to read Hopkins whenever she publishes a new one.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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