Burn Our Bodies Down / Rory Power / Review


Don't let the fire go out.

For as long as Margot can remember, it has been just the two of them. Just Margot and her mother. No father, no family--and no questions about the past. Margot's mother is secretive, always on edge, and Margot has been more or less on her own for years.

With nowhere to look for answers, Margot feels lost and alone, but when she discovers a photograph tucked between the pages of her mother's old Bible, she finds a new connection to the past: her grandmother's phone number.

Suddenly, Margot finds herself running from the home she knows to the one she doesn't, to a new life with a new family. But when Margot arrives in Phalene, Nebraska in search of her grandmother, she finds her grandmother's fields burning instead, and in the midst of the flames lies a dead girl who looks just like Margot.



Writing Style In creating the compelling voice of 17-year-old Margot, Rory Power uses a poetic combination of fragments, fractured sentences, and incomplete thoughts. Though I complained about the abundant use of sentence fragments in my review of Janella Angeles's Where Dreams Descend, the effect in this work is entirely different. Not distracting in the least, the fragments lend to the broken narrative of a struggling and lonely protagonist, a protagonist who lives constantly on edge.

Nebraska The rural United States rarely makes its way to mainstream fiction, which is a shame. A lot of life happens between the coasts, in the "flyover" states, after all. Power's writing serves to highlight the reality of much of the Midwest: extreme poverty, generations-old-and-nearly-forgotten prosperity, and resilient life clinging to the fields. Not only does this work feature an overlooked locale, Power's rendering of Nebraska is utterly atmospheric, both spooky and majestic.

Tess The character Power creates in Tess is wonderful. She embodies a lot of the contradictions of a small-town teenager. She loves life. She longs for more. She has dreams and aspirations. She has roots and connections. She is carefree, and she is also surprisingly tender and attentive to another girl in need of a listening ear. This is the type of character that we need more of in fiction in general and in YA fiction in particular.


Power does a great job of evoking an unsettling mood in her descriptions of Phalene and Fairhaven, the house where Margot's grandmother lives. In fact, Power does this a little too well. Before I knew which direction the story would take, I already had a feeling that this town was wrong, this house was wrong, and these characters were off-kilter. Because it took Margot significantly longer to get to the place that Power's atmospheric descriptions took me at once, it felt almost like the descriptions themselves had been spoilers. I was leagues ahead of Margot in a way that was more frustrating than exciting. Preemptively Creepy

I know this sounds silly. How can a thriller be too suspenseful? Isn't the suspense the point? To an extent, of course the answer is yes. A novel like this needs suspense. It thrives on suspense. But when I get over halfway through a book, I start needing some answers. The build-up is great. Off the bat, there is a combative mother, a tight-lipped grandmother, a mysterious fire, and a dead girl. Then the narrative stalls. More questions get added to the mix, but no answers are forthcoming. This is frustrating to Margot, and it was all the more frustrating for me. The wild reveals, twists, and turns of the last quarter of this book made up for some of the lag in between, but there is definitely a large stretch of this book that is frustrating to say the least. Too Much Suspense



Those who want to go back to the beautiful and haunting Nebraska of Willa Cather's My Antonia need look no farther than this book. Fans of Sandra Dallas's Tallgrass should enjoy the small-town-big-problems atmosphere of this work as well..


Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: July 7, 2020
Series: N/A
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  1. Sounds intriguing. It's been a while since I've read a good thriller.


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