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Burn Down the Sky by James JarosBurn Down the Sky by James Jaros
Harper Voyager, April 26, 2011

FYI: There are mild spoilers in this review.

Intense. Dark. Riveting.

I love my post-apocalyptic reads, but I knew before starting this one it would be long, dark journey.  Here’s the description from the publisher:

After the destruction of nature and the death of the world . . .

After the Wicca virus drove billions to madness and suicide, replacing order and reason with violence and terror . . .

In the parched ruins of what once was civilization, one commodity is far more valuable than all others combined: female children.

When well-armed marauders roll in at dusk to brutally attack a fiercely defended compound of survivors, Jessie is unable to halt the slaughter—and she can do nothing to prevent the ruthless abduction of innocents, including her youngest child. Now, along with her outraged teenage daughter, Bliss, Jessie must set out on a journey across a blasted landscape—joining up with the desperate, the broken, the half-mad, on an impossible mission: to storm the fortress of a dark and twisted religion and bring the children home.

If you are easily distressed by child abuse or simply enjoy a good night’s sleep, this book is not for you. When it comes to reading about the end of the world, we all know there are endless possibilities as to what could happen. We hope that when the time comes we will meet it with courage and perseverance, but there are darker possibilities too. Burn Down the Sky is one of those books I could not stop reading, even when night after night I suffered bizarre dreams from its dark setting. The world really has gone to hell when child molesters form their own church.

But I could not stop reading.

The searing heat of the wastelands, the never ending drive of the characters, the amazing spirit of Ananda flung me into Jaros’ world and pinned me to every word. I also learned something about myself along the way. I’m not put off my raw violence. Especially when it involves injustice to children. I found myself shouting (out loud) when the abused girls finally found their courage to fight back. It was one of the most thrilling scenes I’ve ever read. Ever. I shed tears not for of the torture they endured, but for their freedom they seized. Thinking about it, even now, makes my heart pound.

If you can handle it, read this book.