Burning Kingdoms: The Internment Chronicles, Book 2

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Burning Kingdoms:  The Internment Chronicles, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Second, stronger installment focuses on characters.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Layers of Earth's atmosphere given in fantasy-world setting.

Positive Messages

Life has its horrors and cruelty, but you should keep dreaming, keep exploring, and stay open to what it has to offer. With the support of those who understand you, you can be strong enough to keep going no matter what.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Narrator Morgan, 16, is the peacemaker and glue that holds everyone together. Loyal and curious, she'll do anything to protect her loved ones. Best friend Pen is smart and artistic but starts to rely too much on alcohol to cope. Members of the large cast all have strengths, weaknesses, and foibles; they all do what they think is right and try their best in difficult circumstances. Except for the distant, corrupt kings, there are no villains.

Violence

Bombings in wartime cause mass casualties and destruction with chaos, injuries, and a horrible aftermath described without gore.

Sex

A few kisses, not described in detail.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens sneak out at night, go to a nightclub, and drink to excess. One teen sneaks alcohol and uses it to excess. The consequences of endangering yourself and others as well as hangovers are shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Burning Kingdoms is the second in Lauren DeStefano's Internment Chronicles series. It picks up right where Perfect Ruin left off and is equally thought-provoking, this time about personal and emotional development (loyalty, secrets, faith, finding where you belong, love, and so on) as the characters crash-land on Earth and find themselves in a free society. But it's a society at war, and bombings cause mass destruction and casualties. Injuries and pain are described without gore, and tragic deaths are a backdrop after the main characters are nearby when a bomb falls. Two or three kisses are not described, and one illicit kiss is described vaguely.

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What's the story?

Morgan Stockhour, her remaining family, and a few fellow rebels have escaped their floating home world of Internment and crash-landed on the Earth they weren't even sure really existed. They've been taken in by Jack Piper, who's the top advisor to the king, and his five children. The vastness of life on the ground is unsettling to the group whose whole world is a small island-city, and the people on the ground enjoy levels of personal freedom those on Internment could only imagine. But this new kingdom is not without its own horrors, and it's proving too much for Morgan's best friend, Pen. Morgan becomes convinced that to save Pen they'll have to get back to Internment somehow. But the only way to make returning even remotely possible would be Morgan betraying a secret that Pen discovered about the two kingdoms. What will Morgan do to save the ones she loves?

Is it any good?

Lauren DeStefano's eloquent prose perfectly captures the on-the-brink feeling of power and possibility, of being "young and bright and waiting to see what we are capable of." Without pandering to teens, she creates a believable, relatable narrator; questions about where we feel at home, how to love each other, how to protect each other, even how to be mad at each other, and where to place our faith are explored with a fine, deft touch and a lyrical ear for language.

The new world in which the group finds itself is as vividly realized as Internment was in Perfect Ruin and provides a lot of food for thought, especially in contrast to Internment. The story never veers offtrack but builds tension steadily to an ending that, now that we're so invested in the characters, will have us continuing to think long after finishing and eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why so many dystopian and fantasy books are part of a series. Does it keep you coming back for more? Which other series have you read? Are there any series you didn't finish?

  • Why do you think the author chose the quote from Carl Sagan at the beginning? Do you know who Carl Sagan was?

  • Did you read Perfect Ruin? Which book did you like better, or did you like them the same? What do you think will happen to the characters next?

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