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Adventure-Driven YA SciFi | Book Review: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

It’s been awhile since I read a really heart-pounding sci-fi read, so I was hoping Burn Out would help me out with that!

Book Review: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

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burn out by kristi helvig book review

Title & Author: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction – Post-Apocalyptic

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Series: Burn Out #1

Publisher: EgmontUSA

How I Got the Book: Bought


“Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone–her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun–one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.”

Shine Bright Like A Raging Sun

Looking for something fast-paced, I stumbled upon Burn Out, a post-apocalyptic YA sci-fi book. Just as Tora suspects she might just be the last girl on Earth – huddled by herself in an underground bunker – she meets a group of rebels who’s loyalties are mixed.

This is a strange review to write because I really wanted something specific from this book. I was mood reading, which can be dangerous. If a book doesn’t meet your expectations then was it a mediocre book or did it just not meet your criteria?

I’ll walk through my thought process and leave the ultimate decision up to you.

Burn Out did, in fact, turn out to be a fast-paced scifi read. It started out with a ton of action and dodging baddies, but then the story became a bit unbelievable. And not because of the concept (the sun burning out is not that far-fetched), but due to some super confusing relationship dynamics.

I was really intrigued by the whole concept of the book, and I think most readers will be engaged by Tora, her sad story and her exciting future – laden with her father’s super powered, grade A weapons only she can fire.

We’ve got a classic tough girl on our hands; Tora is wary of everyone she comes into contact with and no one slips her suspicion. She is strong and capable, and I really liked that about her.

When it comes to some relationship things, I feel like the author could have made things less non-sequitur. So many things just didn’t add up, and it took away from my overall enjoyment of the story because I kept thinking “Wait…what’s going on?! Why would so-and-so do that when they just did this…?”

Also, the romance wasn’t very heart-melty. You know what I’m talking about. I didn’t get that oh, wow, this is getting good feeling ever. It was almost there…but not quite.


This book fell short for me. Although it did have the adventure-driven story and scifi-ness I was looking for, Burn Out became too confusing at the end with characters acting unaccountable strangely and a mini-cliffhanger. Burn Out wasn’t a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t for me, and I don’t plan on tuning in for book two.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.