I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Smoke by Ellen Hopkins
Narrator: Candace Thaxton, January LaVoy
Series: Burned #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 10th 2013
Length: 8 hours and 13 minutes
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned
Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Burned.
Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.
Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?
Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.
‘How many people live unafraid? To truly embrace courage, I think, requires one of two things–unshakable faith that death is no more than a portal to some Shangri-la reunion. Or zero belief at all.’
Smoke is the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 release, Burned. It’s a dual-narrative story told from the point of view of Pattyn who is currently on the run after her father is shot and killed and of Jackie, Pattyn’s sister, who has remained behind and is suffering through the aftermath.
While Burned did admittedly leave off with a major cliffhanger of an ending, I can’t help but think it would have been better off left as is. Smoke’s plot felt stretched and thin and unnecessary story lines were added that detracted from the heart of the story. There was the radical militia movement, the slaughter of wild mustangs, the mistreatment of migrant workers and while these are all important topics I felt that not only was there too much going on but it never felt like it fit with the main story which centers around the Mormon community the family is a part of. I think the bigger issue with Smoke though is the absence of Ellen’s signature writing style. Yes, this is written in verse and yes her prose is beautiful… but only in certain sections. It wasn’t consistent and read far too much like a typical novel for my liking.
In addition, the wrap-up was far too flawless. Too picture perfect. And storylines were left unresolved, like the lack of resolution of Pattyn’s previous life she had while on the run. Burned is one of my favorite by Hopkins and while Smoke didn’t live up to that, it did give us a resolution (whether it was ultimately necessary is definitely debatable).
Smoke is a story of survival, of learning to cope following the aftermath of abuse and starting anew.