This book was sent to me by Random House Australia. I have been asked to write a review and my review is truthful to my opinion of the book.
From the press release:
When a tragic event occurs in a quiet town in England, no one could predict just how it would ripply through the four people from opposite sides of the world who physically and emotionally collide in this multi-faceted tale.
Kate Daniels is grappling with the freak death of her estranged husband, whilst trying to rebuild a life for herself and her precocious and space-obsessed young son, Noah.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Martin is still paralysed with grief twenty years after the death of his son. Home for him is now a park bench by the canal.
And then there’s Matthew Hooper – a classmate of Noah’s – who has come to suspect his older brother, Tom, has a dangerous obsession with fire.
Novels that have multiple stories within it can go either way; they can become too cluttered and have only a thin underlying story linking it all together or the various stories can be rich and well intertwined. Burned was the latter. It was the perfect example of what a novel focusing on a variety of characters should be. For me, no story took preference over another and all were equally important to the central story, though I did have a soft spot for one character.
Was everything explained due to the multiple perspectives? No, but the story didn’t feel like it was anything anything. There were also shifting dates and locations split between Australia and England.
I found the characters interesting and intriguing. Tom is an evil character, it’s that simple. I feel as though Tom is inherently evil in his disposition and actions. There is no remorse. No hint of empathy or, if I dare to go that far, humanity. In fact, he garners joy from the news that this experiment lead to fatality. Matthew inadvertently discovers his brothers dark secret and is torn between revealing his brother for the monster he is, or risk the wrath he will receive from Tom if no one believes him.
Frankie and Noah find themselves in the middle of this mess. Friends since early childhood, Frankie grew up in Salisbury, England and Noah grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches with his mother Kate and now-deceased father, Richard. Burned shows characters from all spectrums. In stark contrast to Tom, you have Noah. A boy who has grown up treasuring the telescope his father has given him for a birthday present and dreams of one day going into space. There is a sweet innocence about him and I think most people can identify with Noah as at some stage in their life, they were just like him.
I had a soft spot for Noah and I was sad to see his childish innocence and naivety stolen from him for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnessing the worst that humanity has to offer. Noah becomes the target of bullying after classmate Matthew comes to discover what his brother has done in an attempt to protect him.
There wasn’t a huge climax or ending, but it wasn’t needed. It doesn’t have a cookie cutter ending and this is one of the things I love about Burned, it simply represents life in its messiest but most accurate and real forms.
For a debut novel, I was blown away by the in-depth level of storytelling Nicholas is capable of. I really enjoyed this book. I finished it in a few days. This may not seem like a big deal because it is a rather short novel, but if a story isn’t compelling to me, it doesn’t matter how short it is, it will take me awhile to read it. Not Burned. I couldn’t stop reading and I desperately wanted to find out what happened.
I would highly recommend this novel.
Image supplied by Random House Australia