Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig

Posted On 26 January 2015

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Just finished reading Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig and woah, wow and oh my giddy aunt all rolled into one!

Atlanta Burns is a young girl.  At the start of the story she’s just returning to school after a break of some months.  The reason why she’s been away from school will soon be made apparent to you the reader.  In the meantime all I can say is that she’s gathered something of a reputation and people are a strange mix of in awe, scared and confrontational towards her.  Getting a reputation has it’s drawbacks but Atlanta isn’t too worried – she’s all up for going stirring up a can of whoopass!

This is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give away too much about the plot.  In fact I don’t really want to talk about the story other than to let you know that Atlanta is going to become the hero of the underdog!  And a most unexpected hero at that with a smart mouth and a heart of gold that she hides beneath a prickly exterior.

I liked Atlanta.  She’s a mixed up girl but that’s no wonder considering her past.  She gets involved in all sorts of adult badness that she shouldn’t even be aware of and on the outside she appears tough.  Yet, she does get afraid, she doesn’t want to be in scary situations and more often than not she just wants her mum!  She is vulnerable and yet she’s also determined.  I don’t think you could fail to like her really. She’s all about championing the misfits and probably in recognition of this they naturally navigate towards her.

And, oh my word, there’s a lot of rescuing to be done here and no shortage of heartache frankly.  If you’ve read Wendig’s Blackbird series you’ll be no stranger to the gritty realism that he portrays so well and this book is no exception.  Within this story you’re going to get mixed up with all sorts from the lower echelons of society to the society darlings and you’re going to bear witness to extreme poverty and some rather seedy living.

This is without doubt a brutal read and you can believe me when I say that.  Through this story you’re going to be reading about bullying, homophobia, violence, suicide, rape, torture, a bunch of fascist podunk hicks, dog fighting and dog baiting!  Some of the people involved are down right nasty and don’t flinch at all sorts of repugnant behaviour – and if that’s going to be a turn off for you then I’m giving you fair warning right now!  I’m not trying to deter you from reading this book because frankly I was hooked to the page and at the end of the day this may be a downright dark and gritty look at areas that are not always pleasant to be reminded of but it was also a book with hope threaded throughout.  Atlanta is a misfit, she’s more an anti-hero than anything else but it’s sort of reassuring that she wants to do the right thing.

In terms of criticisms I think the only thing I would mention is that this can be bleak (see above!)  There are very few really nice people to latch onto and you certainly won’t be having any deep belly laughs while you read this.  Like I said though, I found it totally compelling, shocking and then uplifting in a strange sort of way and absolutely unputdownable.

I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this with the above provisos.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

36 Responses to “Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig”

  1. booksbrainsandbeer

    Nice review! I was curious about this one since I’m a big fan of Wendig’s Miriam Black series. Guess I’ll have to give it a go.

    • lynnsbooks

      Indeed. I think if you like Miriam you’ll be well prepared.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    Hahaha, “fascist podunk hicks.” Bless your heart, Lynn!!! Too funny. I like the sound of a rough and tumble heroine who’s got some growing up to do, especially one with whoopass potential! I’ve been curious about this one for a while, especially since I’ve not read a book by Chuck Wendig yet! *hides*

    Would you recommend this as an intro to his work?

    • lynnsbooks

      hahaha – I totally robbed that from Not Yet Read – (I did tell them I was going to steal it first – nothing like a bit of polite theft!)
      Well, I’m not an expert on his work tbh – I’ve read the three Miriam books – which I really like but nothing else. They’re also very harsh but I just love them. I liked this I have to admit, what I actually didn’t mention is that this is a bit of a step out of character for me in that it’s not fantasy or urban fantasy, it doesn’t even have a tad of that kind of element involved.
      I would definitely recommend this – but, would I recommend Miriam first – I’d probably say check out Blackbirds first. It has divided opinion between the people I know but I really like the main character.
      Lynn 😀

  3. A Well Read Woman

    Love the cover! Great review. 🙂

  4. Tammy

    I just finished this last night and boy do I have a lot to say about it! My review will be up later this week. I almost DNF’d it because of the subject matter and then when something in particular happened near the end I nearly broke my Kindle because I was so mad. But, now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I will recommend it, but not to everyone. This is definitely a book for a special kind of reader:-) Great review!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yep, I know exactly which kindle breaking point you’re referring to! It really isn’t for everyone to be honest. You have to go into it knowing how brutal it can be!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Stephen P. Bianchini

    Hello Lynn I like Chuck Wendig ( and I follow his blog) but haven’t read this one yet. I will have to go and get it fast!! 🙂

  6. Steph

    I had some concerns on the research side but it is a compelling read and even with few likable characters it is a strong read. Very hard to turn away from once you start it. Great review.

    • lynnsbooks

      It certainly is a strong read and definitely not one that you can easily turn away from. Even with the content you’re compelled to finish! What were your concerns about the research in particular?
      Lynn 😀

      • Steph

        There were some small pieces such as expensive cigarettes being considered cheap that didn’t fit with the area he was trying to portray – it made it seem he wasn’t familiar with the area but I sent them some feedback on it. I was a bit surprised because with the Miriam Black series he was spot on with that stuff.

      • lynnsbooks

        Ahh, I confess I would never pick up on that. I guess it pulls you out of the story a little bit though?
        Lynn 😀

      • Steph

        It did for me – more it was a concerns because addressing such serious issues in YA fiction you have be pretty spot on or the kids in those areas will tune out or write the book off. Wendig cares a lot about getting this kind of thing right – I’m sure if they got the feedback in time the probably addressed it.

      • lynnsbooks

        OMG – is this YA! I wouldn’t probably say so. I mean, there’s not really any f bombs or potty mouths running riot but, even so….

      • Steph

        It is…it’s the only reason I got concerned…it’s not profane but it’s pretty rough for YA fiction.

  7. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    This sounds really good! As I would expect from Wendig 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s certainly a unique read and I was gripped to be honest. There is no fantasy here at all and it’s definitely shocking! But, it’s just compelling.
      Lynn 😀

  8. romeorites

    I have yet to read a Wendig (or Wendigo as my autotext believes it to be. I would not advise reading a Wendigo. Terrible stains.) Anyhoo, where was I? Ah, yes. This looks like one to add to the TBR pile and that cover is awesome. Perhaps I should read the Miriam Black stuff as well. I can definitely see how it could be hard going, in terms of bleakness, and I did balk at the mention of dog baiting/fighting amongst other things that you mentioned. But I shall be brave and venture forth so. Great review Lynn 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      The cover is rather good isn’t it! I would probably read the Miriam books first. That being said, mmm, not sure. They’re both brutally frank, The dog baiting is horrendous – in fact it made me want to cry! And it is kinda sad but also there are just really good moments and you literally can’t not read it once you start!
      Lnn 😀

      • romeorites

        Hate it when animals or children get hurt. I will probably cry also. Maybe I should try a Miriam book first. Or just dive straight in. Hmmmm…

      • lynnsbooks

        I can’t deny – really, it’s bad in parts – but not in a way that is done just for the sake of it. It’s basically telling you the way things are I suppose. It’s probably not the harshest piece of realism I’ve read but it’s certainly gritty – sick of using that word and need to come up with an alternative!! There is no fantasy in this book though! The Miriam Black series is different in that respect.
        Lynn 😀

      • romeorites

        Right. Added to ye olde wishliste. You have intrigued me. Well played Lynn. Well played. 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        And now I’ll be all worried in case you don’t like it!!!!LOL
        Lynn 😀

      • romeorites

        OF COURSE I WILL BLAME YOU! just kidding. Im sure it will be brilliant.

      • lynnsbooks

        Hahah 😀

  9. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I just skimmed this review because this will be my next read (well, actually it was in the RUNNING for the position to be my next read…but now it for sure will be!) and I saw enough about your giddiness that I’m very excited now!

    • lynnsbooks

      I thought it was very good. No fantasy elements at all but very bleak and brutal a bit like the Miriam series in that respect. It definitely tugged my heartstrings and I cam yay close to crying but, a very compelling read.
      Lynn 😀

  10. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    He does have that heartache and gritty realism thing going on with all the books/characters I’ve read thus far. Like he likes making you hurt!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah – spot on!! He does put you through the wringer!!
      Lynn 😀

  11. Woman’s best friend???? | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. this week I’ve been reading Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig and The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne.  I’ve taken my inspiration from Atlanta […]

  12. January – in short | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Atlanta Burns – Chuck Wendig […]

  13. All good things to those who wait… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Hunt by Chuck Wendig.  Another book bought early 2016.  I loved Atlanta Burns.  My review here. […]

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