Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Burn (The Burn Series Book 1) by Annie Oldham

  Before WWIII, the United States took away all freedom of speech and personal privacy in a dramatic attempt to eradicate terrorism.  They had watchers in every classroom, every home.  There was even a bill in congress for personal identification implants so the government could always track their citizens' movements.

 Sixteen-year-old Terra lives where someone would only read about in science fiction and fantasy novels.  She lives below the surface of the ocean, down in the depths on the very bottom.  It is a secluded colony with a controlled climate.  She lives in a bubble.  Before WWIII (the Event) started, many scientists got together and formed these colonies in the ocean to escape what would inevitably happen.  When the war broke out, those living in the colonies were safe.  One hundred years later, their existence was just a rumor.  And the colony wants it to stay that way.  People don't ever go to the surface, what they call The Burn.  It is said to be an awful, desolate, and lawless place.  But Terra isn't happy with living in the colony.  To her it feels like living in a prison.  She longs to get out and see what The Burn is.  Mostly, she just wants to escape the colony.  Unfortunately everything in the colony is controlled and monitored heavily.  Escaping is difficult and she must leave behind her loving sister and controlling father.  Her mother hadn't been seen in a very long time.  Terra blames her father for that because of the strange circumstances of her mother's departure.  With the help of one of her teachers and the mysterious Gaea, she leaves for what had been Washington at one time.  Now all of the states have been dissolved and it is just called New America.  And it is nothing like she thought it would be.

"...Politically.  New America is the most stable nation at the moment.  Though that's nothing to brag about, given the way they're enforcing stability.  Their citizens are required to live in designated cities.  Anyone found outside is incarcerated in a labor camp.  So many other nations broke out into civil war after the Event and war with each other as well.  I suppose the relative peace in New America is admirable, but I wouldn't ask its citizens about it...."

When Terra reaches Washington, things are chaotic.  The first thing she does is rescue a guy who was drowning.  But he doesn't know who rescued him and she follows him and his friends back to their settlement.  Dave, the guy she rescued, takes to her quickly and likes her.  She likes him too.  But there is Mary, who Dave has a serious history with.  Mary also doesn't trust her.  The more she gets to know the people within the settlement, the more she feels like a liar and feels like she is betraying her new friends by not telling them the truth of where she came from.  Then again, she can't really talk.  The sacrifice for her to come to The Burn was her tongue.  So the group at the settlement thinks she is from Arizona.  The longer she stays and participates, the more she wonders if she should have stayed at the colony.  Even if it did eat at her from the inside out.  Here on The Burn it sometimes comes down to kill or be killed.  People didn't hesitate to take whatever they wanted or needed from you and you had to stay on your guard almost constantly.  Staying alive meant hard work and going out for meds and supplies sometimes, which could be extremely dangerous.  Should Terra stay?  Could she survive here in this new reality?

I left the colony to find a place I belong.  Instead I find I am capable of unspeakable violence.

One can only see the similarities in what happened before WWIII with the limitation of freedoms and how things are today.  History does repeat itself at times.  And although Terra lived in a safe and very controlled environment, is it really worth giving up her freedom for feeling like you're in prison?  Can you trade your freedom for safety and comfort?  Even though most would that lived in these colonies, she wasn't one of those.  The chance to find out who she really was and where she really belonged had a much bigger pull on her than the safety and comfort of the colony.  But what she found changed her.  Things out on The Burn were harsh.  A reality she never expected that made her question her decision to come there.  Want to hear the whole story?  Go check out The Burn!!

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