TITLE: Burning Bright
AUTHOR: Chanda Stafford
PUBLICATION: January 25, 2016
FORMAT: Kindle Edition
Three years ago, Samantha Gray killed her parents.
Haunted by their deaths, she hides her scars behind sarcasm and vintage t-shirts, counting the days until she can escape her foster home in Alegria, Arizona. Then she meets Ben, a California boy whose filmmaker parents constructed a big cat sanctuary outside of town. She’s hesitant to get close, terrified he’ll learn her secret.
When Ben introduces Sam to Solomon, a Bengal tiger on borrowed time whose gruesome history eerily mirrors her own, she must decide whether she’s strong enough to overcome her past and save not only Solomon’s life, but her own. And to do that, she’ll need to tell Ben the truth.
It’s been quite a long time since I last read a book. To say that I have been in a mild reading slump would be the best way to put it. My college schedule became too much to handle that I couldn’t even stay true to my “one book a week” agenda. Other than that, I also have a lot of books I’m currently working my way through, and I’m glad that Burning Bright has been the first one I finished reading from that lot.
Starting off with the novel, it actually wasn’t hard to get into Samantha Gray’s world. It felt so real that it turned out to be really easy knowing everything that occurred in Alegria, Arizona, which is where our main character lives in. One of the good things in the novel is that it readily discusses timely issues, those that happen in real life and can’t really be denied no matter how hard the society tries hard to hide it. Another is its discussion on the importance of animal shelters, and of the knowledge that animals should not be treated any less than how humans are treated. We are all created by one Creator after all. We all deserve life and we should never be neglected nor killed by another.
However, I might have found some issues with the overall pace of the story. It took more than half of the novel before what might have been the climax of the story was discussed, and a little amount of pages wherein the event was discussed itself. Although the development of Sam and Ben’s relationship along with Sam’s very frightening relationship with her foster father Daryl was more than enough to keep the story going, and me, reading. Sam and Ben’s relationship was adorable, to say the least. It didn’t feel rushed, and how Sam slowly opened up about herself to Ben kept me glued to my seat and turning pages on my e-reader. Daryl, however, frightened me. I felt Sam’s fear every time she’s in the same room as him, making me feel wanting for him to be in jail or anything else, as long as he won’t get his hands on Sam. His depth as a character felt so real that I have chills every time his name gets mentioned in the novel.
Sam as the main character was really interesting to read about, considering that she had a very rough past, and she wasn’t exactly the ‘nice girl who everyone from school likes’ character. There were times when I was frustrated with her, but all her other actions make up for those moments. She is a really strong girl, and her relationship with Ben somehow showed a completely new side of her. We discover who she is through Ben, and she develops as a character with Ben.
On the other hand, Ben as the main male character was swoon-worthy. He helped us get into Sam’s walls and he helped Sam during her hard times. He is sweet and loving, although his indecisiveness at the beginning of the story was kind of aggravating. But all the things he did for Sam did make up for his shortcomings in the beginning of the novel. And Emily, Sam’s best friend was alright. She came of annoying to me at some points of the story, but the way she stood up for Sam and understood her all throughout the novel made me think that she was a good friend after all.
Overall, the story proved to be a good, unique, and interesting. The pace of the story might come off slow to those who like fast-paced novels, but the content and the story itself make up for all those other shortcomings.This novel is not your usual YA contemporary read, and I find it recommendable for those who love complicated, deep, and dark contemporary reads.
3.75 out of 5 stars!
Chanda Stafford teaches middle and high school English. She loves traveling and currently lives in Michigan with her husband and a menagerie of rescued dogs and cats.
When she’s not reading or writing, Chanda enjoys old zombie movies, authentic Italian food, and comic books.