Review Blog

Oct 30 2016

Phoenix burning by Bryony Pearce

cover image

Little Tiger Press, 2016. ISBN 9781847156709
(Age: Young adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Revenge; Junk-Punk; Dystopian; Religious cults; Survival; Challenge; Trust and betrayal. The first book in this series, Phoenix Rising, introduced the reader to the world of post-cataclysmic environmental disaster, where the ocean is a seething mass of caustic junk, roiling in the corrosive waters that take life rather than support it. In Phoenix Burning, the second book of the series, we join the junk pirates as they variously fight one another and work together to solve a mystery and to recover the missing component to enable their salvaged energy system to become functional. In the process Toby and Ayla must work through their sabotage and distrust of each other to complete the task that they cannot achieve alone. This takes them into the enclave of the sun-worshippers - a cult that engages in bizarre rituals as part of their religious fervour. They must work together to steal what they need, while being involved in complex challenges, where loss means they become silent monk-like devotees and winning means they become blind but 'holy'. (This is a little like a Hunger Games fight to avoid death and where winners bear the burden of their win.) Toby and Ayla's relationship is always going to be challenged because of their family history, but Pearce has cleverly woven a tale where we are able to detect a growing but fraught dependence on one another and a hint of closeness, but with trust in jeopardy.
The winner of this text is the very different setting, where normality has been so badly damaged by environmental disaster. The ocean is a chemical wasteland, detrimental to life. The problem this has created for the world and the survivors has created a fantasy environment that is unlike any other. Sailing on a pirate ship where everything is cobbled together using junk salvaged from the sea or the spoiled shores allows for some impressive imagination leaps. Pearce writes in a compelling and exciting way and from the prologue we realise that there is danger to follow.
This is a book that can be highly recommended to YA readers (male and female), particularly those who have enjoyed Hunger Games and other dystopian literature.
Carolyn Hull

BUY IT NOW ON booktopia
Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
International Children's Book Day 2nd April, 2017
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals 2017 longlist
CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist 2017
Branford Boase Award 2017 longlist
Children's Book Award 2017 shortlist
Infographic: Teen reading habits
Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2017
Newbery and Caldecott Medals 2017
ALA awards 2017
Costa Children's Book Award 2016
National Simultaneous Storytime 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates