Burned - Ellen Hopkins Wow. I found this book... original, disturbing, horrific and completely nothing like I expected it to be.

Firstly, I didn't realise it was in verse form and when it arrived I was a bit reluctant to begin seeing as my past experiences with novels in verse are Dante's Inferno and Paradise Lost. Must I say anymore? But... I went against my initial instinct and found that I loved the way the style just flowed, I read page after page and suddenly realised I'd devoured half the book in less than an hour (this is a book with nearly 600 pages). The story wasn't lost in the poetry and, if anything, it only served to make the story more effective.

The basic plot is that of a strictly religious mormon family, the father is a violent drunk and the mother takes the beatings and verbal abuse simply because she is a woman and her husband is in charge of her. Yeah, seriously. My feminist stomach clenched with anger at that one. Especially when Brother Crandell (I think - I don't have the book to hand) told Pattyn that the only way she could be redeemed for being born female is to fulfill God's wishes and have lots of babies (because that's a woman's role). This is the kind of book that makes you want to tear your hair out with frustration and violently maim several of the characters. As a woman, I felt the indignity and anger with her. And yes, I'm sure you could argue that not all mormons believe that women are essentially useless without men (but Stephenie Meyer helped to spread the rumour) and this may not be the typical situation, but this does happen. Not in some other time, a couple of centuries ago, but right now. Even in the supposedly civilised West.

The plot takes a rebellious Pattyn, fuelled by teenage hormones, out of this strict, religious world. She is sent to live with her Aunt and finds how different life can be when a relationship is based on love, not fear. But good things can't last forever and eventually her past starts calling her back. I won't spoil the ending, but know this: Burned made me cry, made me angry, made me curious... it is a book I know I'll never forget.