Searching for a book to make your guts churn, your senses sizzle, and your heart pinball in the confines of your ribcage? Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig is it. This book will make you feel things you didn’t know were in your heart’s storehouse.
“They don’t all recognize her. Not yet. But Virgil does. He’s got a wary look like he’s watching a rattlesnake at a distance.”
You don’t mess with Atlanta Burns.
Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it—until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead—by an apparent suicide—Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault.
You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.
Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.
Will Atlanta triumph? Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?
Atlanta Burns is not a typical girl. When the story begins, she’s broken, a cast-off just released from a mental hospital. That’s where they sent her for making shotgun gravy out of the family jewels of her mother’s pervert boyfriend. That’s all most people know about her, but there’s more to Atlanta than what has happened to her.
This girl is smart, the kind of smart that makes you feel sorry for her jacked up childhood and wonder what she could have been if things had gone differently. She falls ass-backwards into a group of misfits and throws herself into the ring to fight against a group of small-time neo-Nazis who get their jollies hurting anyone who looks or acts differently than them.
When her plans to make them pay go awry and one of the downtrodden is found dead, Atlanta backs out and away to concentrate her efforts on a smaller, less personal tragedy. She is hired by a girl to find out who tortured her little dog to death, and her search leads her down a much darker path. The people involved are cold, cruel, and connected, and she finds herself outmatched.
Not that it stops her from stepping back into the snake pit. Atlanta Burns has a box of shotgun shells, each one emblazoned with the name of someone responsible for the torture and murder of the innocent.
This brave, crazy kid is my new hero.
She’s not stupid, and she knows what she’s doing is dangerous, but what drives her is a need to right wrongs and put an end to the injustice that runs so rampant in her small town. I can definitely relate to the sentiment.
I give this book (which I originally read and reviewed in January 2015) an emphatic five out of five stars.