Burning Nation by Trent Reedy

Burning NationThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“At the end of Divided We Fall, Danny Wright’s beloved Idaho had been invaded by the federal government, their electricity shut off, their rights suspended. Danny goes into hiding with his friends in order to remain free. But after the state declares itself a Republic, Idaho rises to fight in a second American Civil War, and Danny is right in the center of the action, running guerrilla missions with his fellow soldiers to break the Federal occupation. Yet what at first seems like a straightforward battle against governmental repression quickly grows more complicated, as more states secede, more people die, and Danny discovers the true nature of some of his new allies.”

I found this novel to be quite different in tone from Divided We Fall, but no less compelling to read.  In the first book, a lot of the conflict was played out at the national level between politicians, with the general public getting caught up in the events those higher-ups set into motion.  Now, Idaho has been occupied by the federal government, and the action has shifted to what can be done by that same general public when faced with an invading force.

Idaho’s governor has by no means vanished from the story; nor has the president.  Their actions seem more peripheral in this book, though.  That said, the picture painted by the broader actions going on in the rest of the country make for a compelling counterpoint to the Idaho situation.  Other states begin talk of secession as what happened in Idaho spreads its ripples far afield.

There also seems to be less straight-up action in this novel, but the tension is ratcheted up even further by the wait in between conflicts.  Reedy offers no guarantees that any character beyond Danny will survive–and indeed, a few minor characters die in action.  The author doesn’t shy away from the horrors of injury in battle but doesn’t glamorize them either.  What action there is, is realistically portrayed.

Readers should also be warned, though, that just as the author doesn’t hide carnage, neither does he hide the more distasteful aspects of war.  There is a scene of torture that is gut-wrenching to read.  I actually had to put the book down for a few minutes after reading that part.  I congratulate the author on including a scene that packed such a punch, but that also wasn’t gratuitous.

Someone to whom I recommended this series said that they felt it was predictable.  I found the series frightening for exactly that reason: I can all too easily see this happening in America, and taking almost exactly the path that Reedy portrays.  Think about that when you read this book, and realize just how plausible a second American Civil War might be.


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