I was a bit wary when I first picked up Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers because the synopsis didn’t attract me greatly. Still, the cover was too gorgeous for me to put down, and it was marketed as a teen mystery/thriller which I usually love. I do wish that the book would have been clearer from the get-go that it would include some paranormal elements… I don’t enjoy horror/sci-fi books as much as I do mysteries and it detracted from my experience of reading this.
Anyway, one thing I completely loved in this book, right from the start, was the writing style. This is the first book I’ve read from Rory Power but she seems to me the kind of writer that has a very powerful, lyrical style that lends depth and beauty to her books. This translates very well into the relationships between characters. The neglectful and sometimes abusive relationship between Margot and her mother, for example, I found well-written and emotional to read.
That’s as far as my compliments go for this book, unfortunately. I did not like the individual characters. I found Margot, our protagonist, boring and with little personality of her own. Other characters like Gram and Tess are barely developed and mostly confusing. The plot doesn’t get much better either, with a slow start and rushed ending. There were a couple twists that shocked me, and some plot lines that I haven’t read in any other YA mystery, though. The action also gets much tighter (see: gory) near the end, which surprised me since the first two thirds of the book was mild. Still, the plot, characters, and mystery aspect was disappointing to me.
I give Burn Our Bodies Down 7/10. If I’d known to expect a horror/paranormal aspect to the book, maybe my rating would be higher. If not for the beautiful writing and complex mother-daughter relationship this book portrays, my rating would be lower. I recommend this to anyone who wants a creepy and weird thriller with well-written scenes but flat characters and a just-tolerable mystery.