Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith

Summary: When 22-year-old aspiring journalist, Emma Cohen, is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story--and a life-threatening situation--when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered. Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate; both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon, and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it s up to Emma, her father and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale. Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel. Griffith's powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.

Review: Soooooo... yeah, not that impressed. I wasn't that interested in Emma as a character, although she does have qualities that are interesting. She's ambitious, she's curious about the world, and she's anxious to prove herself as a journalist. On the other hand, her obsession with Jimmy (and specifically, with hooking up with him) got pretty boring pretty fast. Griffith tries to give Jimmy some depth, what with his medical backstory, but really his sole purpose in this novel is to solve Emma's problems. Oh, and be eye candy, of course. (Not to mention that they fall In Love after what, a week or two?)

Speaking of Emma's problems, they all seem to be solved fairly easily. Despite the rich atmosphere of the setting, the stakes never feel terribly high. Even though the characters are constantly pointing out the horrible dangers the jungle poses, nothing TOO dangerous ever seems to happen. Even the climactic final act wasn't too stressful for me, because a convenient deus ex machina arrives to save the day.

I did like the setting, though. Despite the fact that she didn't do too much with the danger of the Amazon in terms of the story, Griffith clearly did a TON of research on the Amazon's flora, fauna, and peoples. The setting is definitely the book's strongest asset. In fact, the characters actually do face quite a bit of danger from the Amazon, but because the jungle itself always feels so ominous, the plot seems pretty tame in comparison to the scary possibilities.

One final thing: I try not to be too much of a pearl-clutcher; if there's content in a book that I don't like, I generally just ignore it. But frankly, I'm really sick of "New Adult" novels with college-age protagonists that are all about sex. As this genre becomes more prevalent, I hate seeing that strong sexual content seems to be a requirement. This book isn't an exception; although it isn't entirely about sex, but it has a few really graphic scenes, which cost my rating of it a full star.

One more final thing: I wrote all of the above several weeks ago, and today I got an email from the publisher about the copy of the book I read. According to the her, the ARC I read was edited for publication. The sexually explicit scenes are being tamed down and/or removed. To which I say, Good for you, Astor + Blue Editions. Good for you.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book


I received a free ARC from the publisher, Astor + Blue Editions, in exchange for an honest review. Amazon Burning is available now.

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