This review was done by the very lovely Maggie. Thank you Maggie
Thank you to A. K. Butler for sending me the book for review.
“It’s 2159. Zay Scot is a fourteen-year-old boy raised on a secret island in hiding from a government he doesn’t know exists. After more than a decade of avoiding detection, his fugitive parents are brutally kidnapped and he is thrust into a dizzying world centuries more advanced than the one he left behind.
The skies over the United North American Alliance are pollution free. Meals are healthy and delivered to each home. Crime is nonexistent. Medical treatment requires only the scan of your wrist. Poverty, need, and hunger are things studied in history class.
But Zay soon finds himself a fugitive, escaping the brute force of a government always a whisper away. Now he must choose between peace and freedom, and if the journey doesn’t kill him, what he finds might start a war.”
I love a good dystopian novel. And The Burning of Cherry Hill is a brilliant dystopian novel. So good that after picking it up on my train journey home from work, I literally didn’t put it down that evening until I had finished – I just walked home from the station, sat on my sofa and read until I emerged at the end of the story; bleary eyed, wracked nerves and slightly heart-broken. Can you tell I liked this one?
The Burning of Cherry Hill is presented as a ‘found’ journal, although the writing is not styled as a diary – rather it is just written as a retrospective by the main character, Zavier. We meet Zavier (known as Zay) and his sister Evangelina (Lina), living a peaceful life with their parents on their island home – until the day a troop of militant ‘Greys’ arrive from the mainland and changed everything. Now the two young siblings have to deal with a whole different world, learning everything about it, and why their parents fought so hard to keep them away from it.
Zay is a great character – compassionate beyond his 15 years, tenacious and resourceful, but what I particularly loved is that the younger Lina isn’t reduced to being a wet blanket or damsel in distress – she adapts to the new world quicker than her brother, and when the action is turned on them she is always there pulling Zay back up when he is down. The pace of the book really builds as you read on – if it had been a movie, by the end I would have been on the edge of my seat, peeking out from behind my fingers.
It’s hard to talk about my love of this book without giving too much away, and I don’t want to spoil it for any potential readers. This book should fit very well with fans of The Hunger Games and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it’s easy to see why it was awarded first prize for fiction in this year’s Indie Reader Discovery Awards. To me it already feels like a part of the classic dystopian collection, and although it echoes so many of the common dystopian themes it does feel completely fresh, rather than a rehash of the same old ideas.
Although this is categorised as YA, it contains some quite adult themes and events so it’s definitely for older teens (recommended 15+) and adults. It’s been quite a while since a book has lingered with me as long after finishing as The Burning of Cherry Hill. I eagerly await A. K. Butler’s next book, and in the meantime I will be re-reading this one as soon as I can empty my ‘to-read’ pile.
Link for the Paperback is here;
And the ebook is here;