Burning Nation: Divided We Fall, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Burning Nation: Divided We Fall, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Modern civil war erupts in intense, action-packed sequel.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Burning Nation poses tough questions about the freedoms most Americans take for granted. It examines the possible conflicts in the Iowa Army National Guard's oath, in which one swears loyalty to both the U.S. president and the governor of the state.

Positive Messages

Burning Nation emphasizes the importance of loyalty to country, friends, and family. Danny and his allies struggle for justice, even though they can't always agree on their methods.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Danny and his various allies are brave and resourceful when it comes to helping one another stay alive during a time of violence and chaos. Danny, in particular, always tries to do what's right, but he sometimes acts rashly, sometimes with devastating results.

Violence

Burning Nation opens with a deadly firefight and rarely pauses in its depiction of violence and its aftermath. Violence plays a big part in the narrative. Friends and foes alike are killed by missiles, gunfire, swords, and a public hanging. Torture, including waterboarding, occurs in a couple of intense chapters. 

Sex

Danny and his girlfriend, JoBell, clearly have a physically intimate relationship, and there are three scenes in which they're in bed together. Each time except the last, they're interrupted before things can proceed too far. Even in the last instance, the details of the encounter are not described.

Language

The language in Burning Nation seems realistic, given the setting and the intensity of the scenes: frequent use of "damn," "hell," "s--t," "bulls--t,"and "a--hole" and occasional use of "p---y," "d--k," "prick," "bitch," "bastard," and "pissed." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Danny and some of his underage allies relax with some beers they find while hiding from the Feds. One of the adult characters smokes cigarettes. Wounded characters receive morphine injections. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Burning Nation is the second book in the series begun in Divided We Fall. It presents a hard-hitting, realistic depiction of what might happen if a state such as Idaho faced off against the federal government. The language is rough but realistic given the circumstances, with frequent use of "damn," "hell," "s--t," "bulls--t,"and "a--hole" and occasional use of "p---y," "d--k," "prick," "bitch," "bastard," and "pissed." Daniel and JoBell clearly have a sexually intimate relationship, but their time alone is usually interrupted. Violence plays a big part in the narrative. Friends and foes alike are killed by missiles, gunfire, swords, and a public hanging. Torture, including waterboarding, occurs in a couple of intense chapters. Danny and his friends drink beer, an adult character smokes tobacco, and wounded soldiers receive morphine injections for pain.

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What's the story?

Danny Wright, the teen member of the Idaho National Guard who precipitated a showdown with the federal government in Divided We Fall, finds himself perhaps the most wanted man in the nation when the Feds invade the state. Forced into hiding, surviving without electricity, Danny struggles to protect his friends and allies while seeking revenge against those who killed his mother and occupied his hometown. At first, his goals seem clear-cut, but as more people die on both sides of the revolution, the more ambiguity Danny sees in what he's been forced to do. 

Is it any good?

BURNING NATION avoids the pitfalls that often cause other trilogies to stumble in their second volumes. Author Trent Reedy keeps Danny Wright and his fellow "freedom fighters" on the run and living by their wits, while society crumbles around them. There's plenty of intense action but also a focus on the moral quandaries raised by Idaho's declaration of independence from the United States. Which side is in the right, and is it possible to defend yourself and friends without becoming a cold-blooded murderer?

In a shocking cliffhanger, Danny and his crew discover that the answers to their life-or-death questions aren't at all obvious; that uncertainty gives this near-future thriller its complexity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways in which modern warfare is depicted by the media. Do certain outlets have a slant or bias? 

  • Why do some U.S. citizens place such a high importance on states' right? Why do some want a strong federal government? Do you think a second civil war in the U.S. is possible?

  • Is torture an acceptable method of gaining intelligence about an enemy? What separates "enhanced interrogation techniques" from torture?

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