Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

4 Stars


The last guy who did was her momma’s boyfriend. Atlanta didn’t take too kindly to his unwelcome advances . . .

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After spending a few months in the loony bin as punishment, Atlanta is back at school where she makes a couple of new friends in need of help dealing with some Neo-Nazi type bullies and a girl who wants Atlanta to bust up the local dog fighting ring. Looks like it’s time for Atlanta to adopt a new motto:

“Live fast, die young, leave a pretty-looking corpse.”

I came this close to not reading this one. The cover art had me thinking it was a graphic novel (not that there’s anything wrong with that … except my inability to read them on the Kindle). Endless gratitude to Dan for changing my mind. Now that I'm finished I find myself left with a predicament. I have no idea how to categorize Atlanta Burns. I mean, on the one hand this is a story that deals with subject matter such as hate crimes and guns and illegal drugs and dog fighting and child rape and everything else horrible that you would never want a youngster to read. Buuuuuuuut, on the other hand Atlanta is the most kick-ass young adult heroine I’ve ever come across so I would totally encourage older/very mature teens to read this story.

I’m at a bit of a loss for words and don’t really know how to “sell” this story, so I’m going to let some Atlanta quotes do it for me . . .

“Maybe next time? I’ll bring my shotgun. It’s got a taste for the blood of monstrous men.”

“She knows it was him who did this. Maybe not directly. But it was him. A rotten apple doesn’t fall far from its diseased tree.”

“Amazing how easy it is for a kid like me to buy cigarettes. I tucked a lighter in the pack for you.”
“I don’t smoke.”
“You do today. Go on, light one up. Get it good and cherry.” She lets the gun barrel drift toward him, though not at him, not yet. “Then put that cigarette out on your hand.”

“People are monsters for a reason. They don’t stop being monsters just because you thumb ‘em in the eye.”

“I’ll pop you like a water balloon.”
“You don’t got the balls,” he says.
“Don’t much need ‘em.”

“May I come up and talk?”
“You may –“ He starts to take a step forward. “Long as you don’t mind picking birdshot out of your shiny teeth.”

“You come back here again, I’ll be handin’ you your balls in a cereal bowl.”

“Evil keeps on keepin’ on. At some point you gotta stand in the headlights and take your shot.”

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Wait . . . you ain't seen NOTHING yet:

“They say it gets better, but that’s a load of horseshit. Like one day you wake up and things are just easy. That bullies come and bullies go and eventually everything sorts itself out. It doesn’t. That’s not how the world works, and it won’t ever work that way. Somebody’s always going to be there to try to hold you down against the ground and kick you while you’re there. They’ll find a reason for it. An excuse. You’re black. You’re gay. You’re a girl who said no, or a boy who wants to be a girl. You’re different from them, and they make themselves feel better by making you feel like dirt.

It doesn’t get better.

It doesn’t get better on its own. But I am saying you can making it better. You can fight back. You can kick and scream and shove and make sure nobody gets the better of you. You can vote. You can punch. You can stand your ground and stick out your chin and take pride in who you are.

That’s how you really get ‘em. By being proud of yourself. By owning it and being awesome and giving them a big old middle finger that tells them no matter what they do, it won’t change you one teensy little bit. Let them be uncomfortable. Let them squirm. They don’t like who you are, then fuck ‘em.

You defeat them by being undefeatable. By being you.”

Good gravy is she fantastic! It's January 7th and I can GUAR.AN.DAMN.TEE that Atlanta will go down as one of my Top 10 main characters for all of 2015.

Chuck Wendig, I’ve never read you before, but you’ve got yourself a fan now. I’m sooooo ready to break my personal rule about reading the second book in a series. I NEED more Atlanta Burns in my life.

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!


  1. Sooo happy you liked this! I have it as an ARC as well, and was wondering whether I should read it this weekend, but now I want to start right away! (Who cares about having to go to work anyway?)

  2. Work is for losers (my bosses don't read this, right?). I hope you like it!