Twenty-year-old Skyler saw the incident out her window: Some sort of metallic object hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge just before it collapsed and a mushroom cloud lifted above the city. Like everyone, she ran, but she couldn't outrun the radiation, with her last thoughts being of her beloved baby brother, Dorian, safe in her distant family home.
Flash forward to a post-incident America, where the country has been broken up into territories and Muslims have been herded onto the old Indian reservations in the west, even though no one has determined who set off the explosion that destroyed San Francisco. Twelve-year old Dorian dreams about killing Muslims and about his sister—even though Dorian's parents insist Skyler never existed. Are they still shell-shocked, trying to put the past behind them . . . or is something more sinister going on?
Meanwhile, across the street, Dorian's neighbor adopts a Muslim orphan from the territories. It will set off a series of increasingly terrifying incidents that will lead to either tragedy or redemption for Dorian, as he struggles to prove that his sister existed—and was killed by a terrorist attack.
Not on Fire, but Burning is unlike anything you're read before—not exactly a thriller, not exactly sci-fi, not exactly speculative fiction, but rather a brilliant and absorbing adventure into the dark heart of an America that seems ripped from the headlines. But just as powerfully, it presents a captivating hero: A young boy driven by love to seek the truth, even if it means his deepest beliefs are wrong.
Not On Fire, But Burningby Greg Hrbek
Not on Fire, But Burning is a haunting work of fiction. Author Greg Hrbek creates an America, set in the not-too-distant future, rife with paranoia, prejudice, and catastrophic terrorist attacks. The story is told from the viewpoint of several flawed and multi-dimensional characters. Unfortunately, the frequent switching of narrators requires lots of re-reading to uncover who is speaking.
Hrbek's poetic writing juxtaposes the frenzied events in the story. Each chapter grows more and more frantic in its pace, with long, run-on sentences and seldom a break in action. The alternate realities portions of the plot are confusing and often disorienting. Not on Fire, But Burning is a tough story to follow, but its raw and gritty story is definitely memorable.
Review of Advance Reader Copy
Profanity/Language: 14 religious exclamations, 7 mild obscenities, 16 religious profanities, 3 derogatory names, 38 scatological terms, 10 anatomical terms and 40 f-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: Implied occurrences of violence involving drone strikes and bombs; frequent secondhand reports of violence including suicide bombers, drone strikes, hangings, physical fights, murder and terrorist attacks; a few brief scenes of violence including a bomb's impact, fist fight, and a character daydreaming about causing others harm via terrorist plots; a few non-detailed scenes of violent death by hangings and gunshots; a few brief scenes of blood and gore when a character is involved in a fight and later shoots a dog and slits its throat; a brief yet intense scene of violence involving murder.
Sex/Nudity: A few incidents of kissing; a few sexual references including talk of an erection and "boner"; an implied incident of sexual activity between pre-teens.
Mature Subject Matter:
War, terrorism and terrorist threats, drone strikes, attempted murder, animal cruelty, religious fanaticism, suicide bombers, war draft and politics, kids re-enacting waterboarding, kidnapping, underage drug use and addiction, smoking and drinking, depression, vandalism, mention of abortion and menstruation.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Multiple scenes of underage drug use (opium), subsequent addiction and withdrawal; underage smoking; mention of drunk characters; a character is drunk.
Reviewed By Rachel