Monday, August 9, 2021

Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy


Okay, so here's the thing. This isn't really like other YA mysteries I've read. It's weird and disjointed. It has a ton of characters. It doesn't even feel grounded in reality at times. The ending is messy and there's no real conclusion that leaves you with a sense of closure. I can kind of see why this book has such low ratings.

But I still liked it.

Jenny comes to a haunted town to live at the hotel her dad is refurbishing after an incident in Ohio with her mom and stepfamily. Jenny has a traumatic history with fire and in an attempt to overcome her fear, she's become a sort of arsonist, fascinated and repelled by flames in equal measure and desperately wanting to control them.

At her new school, Jenny is a bit of an outcast. Her two friends are just as weird as she is: Ro, a delinquent girl from a troubled home who goes to another school, and Kara, a shy, nerdy girl with overprotective parents. There's also Allen, who is interning with the police, and Cam, the stoic young employee who's working for her dad and best friend of Ben, Jenny's maybe love interest.

The best way to read WATCH YOU BURN is to just go in cold and accept the fucked-up ride for what it is: a fucked-up ride. It's one of those books that relies on withholding of crucial information to keep the plot moving, kind of like E. Lockhart's WE WERE LIARS, and like WWL, one of the ways it does this is by employing a vague, fairytale-like narrative where no one ever asks any of the expositional questions that would shorten the books by about one hundred pages.

If you like those fucked-up stories about messed up girls wandering around in towns full of secrets, you'll probably like this, despite the poor consensus opinion. I was torn between a three and a four for most of the book, but the ending was unsatisfying enough that I think I'm going to stay at three.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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