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Burned - Phyllis Christine Cast, Kristin Cast Burned by another lackluster installment

In book seven of the House of Night series, BURNED(House of Night Novels), the reader returns to the cliffhanger ending of the last book where Kalona has killed Heath, Zoey's soul has shattered, and now Zoey and Heath are together in the Otherworld. With Zoey gone and the prediction looming that she will die permanently within seven days unless her soul is restored, her friends and colleagues must devise a way to bring her back. Stevie Rae is also continuing to deal with the rogue Red Fledglings and her need to hide Rephaim, all while new manifestations of evil surround them.

Despite my claim that I wasn't going to buy this book after the disappointment of TEMPTED(House of Night, Book 6), I went ahead and did so; unfortunately, this book failed to improve over it. Pacing was dreadfully slow for the first 270 pages, and within the first 60 pages, readers can easily discern the plot and outcome of the book. The writing tries too hard and fails with repetitive phrases and similes/metaphors that don't work. Typos abound. The use of slang, unrealistic "teen talk," racist and homosexual stereotypes, and dated references continue. The "nerd herd," Erik, and other characters become insignificant, and there are character inconsistencies in others like Zoey and Heath. Like TEMPTED, Zoey's perspective is written in first-person, while everyone else is in third-person. Even though third-person is typically an omniscient narrator, the authors tried to change the voice of the third-person narrator to match that of each character, and it comes across clumsily. Given the limited focus on Zoey, the book could have easily and more smoothly been written in all third-person and without the need for chapter headings with each character's name; the authors should know that readers are smart enough to figure out the scene changes without names, just like in other books.

On the positive side, the final 50 pages were fast-paced and interesting. Stevie Rae, Rephaim, and Stark show significant character development, and Stevie Rae and Rephaim's evolving connection was by far the most interesting part of the book. Though some may miss the focus on Zoey, I liked the shift because it gave new life to the other characters. Cast and Cast also delve into an expanded mythology, and the book ends on much less of a cliffhanger than the last installment.

Even with these problems, I know that I'll likely pick up the eighth book when it comes out. I just hope that my curiosity doesn't get the better of me and that I have the strength to save my money and wait until it comes to the library.