When 22-year-old aspiring journalist Emma Cohen is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story—and a life-threatening situation—when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.
Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate, where she is both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father, and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.
Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel. Griffith’s powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.
(**I received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
I finished Amazon Burning a little more than a week ago; today, I’m still unsure about how I feel about this book. To begin, I thought this book fell more into the new adult category instead of the young adult category (the steamy scenes get a little too graphic for me to place this in YA).
I went into this book thinking it was going to be engaging and heavy; instead, Amazon Burning is more of a light, action-filled story. The plot was filled with crazy impossible scenes and non-stop action, which allowed me to imagine the book as a thriller movie, instead of a novel, in my mind.
Emma is a likable protagonist, even though I was not able to connect with her. The story begins with her in the middle of a sexual assault case against one of her professors, which prompts her to take her dad’s offer to go to Brazil. Although I understood the importance of the situation, I did not think the writing captured the severity and effect it has on Emma’s life. I was waiting to read about Emma’s character development through her mental and physical battle with these events, but it never came. There are many sub-plots that emerge throughout the novel; I wish Griffith had focused in and built more of that one.
On the other hand, I did enjoy the relationship between Emma and Jimmy. Jimmy is caring, protective and adorable. Emma and Jimmy are a good fit and I think the romance is a great part of the plot. Still, I found the sex scenes to be awkwardly detailed.
A great aspect of this novel is the setting. A majority of the book revolves around the Amazon rainforest and the animals and people that live in it. Amazon Burning is unique from other teen books because it focuses on people outside of modern influence. I liked reading about Yanomami Indian characters, and knowing that the author spent time with Yanomami people adds to her credibility in portraying them.
Overall, I thought Amazon Burning was alright. I didn’t fall in love with the book, but at times I kept reading because I wanted to know what came next. If you’re looking for something different, Amazon Burning might be for you.