Book Review: Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano

burning kingdoms

Publication Date: March 10th, 2015

Disclaimer: All opinions are 100% honest and my own opinion. To know how I review my books and the YA Bookish News review policy, please go here. This may contain spoilers. Proceed cautiously!


Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?



My Review:

Okay, where to start off with this book? Let’s just say that this book took a totally different turn from Perfect Ruin, the first in a trilogy or series. It was very difficult to adapt to the new setting and an entirely different world with it’s own situations. I can’t really talk about the second book without giving spoilers from the first book. So, I’m just going to summarize the events that has occurred in book 1.

*Beware of spoilers*

This section may contain minor spoilers so proceed cautiously. You have been warned!

In Perfect Ruin, two incidents had occurred: the fire at the flower shop and the murdered boy from the jumper group. And then this lead to the King’s counsel to question everyone and basically decide who they should kill off and who’s acting according to society’s rule. Now it turns out that the King’s counsel is actually trying to poison Morgan with the sweetener in her tea and Basil so happened to be there in her apartment at the moment so he could rush her to Lex’s and Alice’s apartment. That makes sense. When Morgan wakes up, she was on the aircraft or “bird” as they call it. Aboard the aircraft is Lex, Alice, Basil, Professor Leander, and Judas and Amy. Of course we can’t really leave Pen and Thomas behind can’t we? So let’s just add them to the addition as well. Somehow no one has noticed that Princess Celeste sneaked onto the aircraft and held Thomas captive. Well, now it’s a little too late to return the Princess to her clock tower so let’s just keep her too. It was rough ride, but they somehow all survived and managed to land on the ground safely. But upon arrival, they have been greeted by the King’s army perhaps? I’m not exactly sure, but I suppose they are the King’s army since Morgan said that they’re “men in uniform.”

So what I just described to you are the main events that happened in Perfect Ruin, and that’s basically where the book ends and the where Burning Kingdoms begin.

*End of Spoilers*

Burning Kingdoms has it’s own separate tone and plot from Perfect Ruin because it’s now set on the ground whereas Perfect Ruin was set on Internment, a floating island in the sky. One of the reasons why I love DeStefano is that she continues to set that certain tone for us. For instance, Perfect Ruin is supposed to be a safe place, a utopic society. Some people on Internment such as Morgan daydreams about the ground or questions society or religion. When I read both Perfect Ruin and Burning Kingdoms, I was able to understand the tone that DeStefano is attempting to achieve. And might I add that she did a wonderful job at it. DeStefano also continues to show her talent for writing in Burning Kindgoms as well.

Now, let’s talk about the differences from Burning Kingdoms and Perfect Ruin. The differences between Burning Kingdoms and Perfect Ruin is that Burning Kingdoms now takes place on the ground. There’s definitely a lot of politics that is going on. This isn’t any major spoiler but apparently there’s a war that is going on in the ground between the two countries (I forgot which ones and I don’t have the book with me). This is actually what intrigues me the most. I think just any book that has some type of political issue that is going on will interest me because it makes the book 100% more complex (which I’m not saying is true all of the time).

Most of the characters have grown a lot by this point of the book, especially Morgan. Morgan is basically the sewer that is trying to sew everyone together so they could keep their sanity, but you could see that there’s a point in the story where Morgan just breaks because sometimes it’s important to focus on yourself too.

We also get more of Pen in here. Oh Pen….I just absolutely love Pen’s character so much. In Perfect Ruin, it has been revealed to us that Pen does have an alcoholic issue. And there is one point in Burning Kingdom where the issue escalated to a near-death experience for Pen, but that is when Pen’s and Thomas’s relationship blossoms into something beautiful. In my review for Perfect Ruin, I did mention that I absolutely adored Pen’s and Thomas’s relationship. And it definitely did at that point of the story. It doesn’t matter if there are any rules in society about betroths or it doesn’t matter where they are, they still love each other unconditionally even if Pen doesn’t show it sometimes.

On the other hand though….Morgan’s and Basil’s relationship gets a little bit rocky. And I’m totally going to be blunt with you guys: I don’t like Basil’s character. He’s such a flat character because I just can’t connect with him and DeStefano just doesn’t talk a lot about him.

Towards the end of Burning Kingdom, however, there is an unexpected love triangle. I’m not exactly sure if that was necessary or not, but we’ll just see how DeStefano plays with this love triangle in the third book.

We do also get to know about the other characters like Celeste who did show up towards the end of Perfect Ruin. I sort of have this love/hate relationship with her character. Sometimes I could connect with her character, sometimes I can’t. However, now that I think about it, she does remind me a little bit of Alison Wilcox from Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. They’re both girls from an elite class that tries their best to do what their parents want. But at the same time, they are lonely so they wish to have company with them. And that’s when I sympathize for them because their just normal girls that was just born into the elite class that has high expectations.

Asides from the previous characters, we do get to meet new characters. And I am so bad because I forgot their last names. I can’t say much about these characters except that they’re apparently related to the King and I think there might be some history behind that which I’m sure that DeStefano will get to it in the 3rd book hopefully.

Overall, it’s an okay book for the second installment in the series. Usually (not all of the times), the second installment is supposed to better or at least have more development from the first installment but I just felt like Burning Kingdoms was an entirely different story than Perfect Ruin. But I think that’s only because Burning Kingdoms is taken place on the ground. I still very much enjoy DeStefano’s writing which is probably one of the reasons why I continue to read this series. It’s not entirely bad per-say but it just doesn’t top off the first book.

Book Reviewer



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