In James K. Decker’s The Burn Zone, our planet–or at least one that fictionally resembles the hell out of it–was headed for ecological disaster until an alien race (the Haan) helped stop the end from coming. Well, helped to pause the downward spiral for the moment, at least.
Sam Shao and her guardian have been helping to raise Haan infants as part of a surrogate program. When the mirage of stability is torn from her eyes as her adopted father is arrested and leaves behind clues to suggest the Haan are plotting something truly horrible while pretending to be benefactors…she sets off to rescue her dad and find out what’s going on.
The military–led by a commander she is convinced is one of the Haan, even though that shouldn’t be possible–begins to hunt for her and seem to want her silenced. One of the Haan, Nix, is even ordered to go so far as to kill her, only to realize that as an infant he was one of the Haan young that Sam was a surrogate for…so he defies both orders and (apparently) heritage to act as her protector instead.
Through danger, horror and some of the best damned writing I’ve come across in a popular work of science fiction in quite a while, Sam sets out to save the human race, despite the odds being insanely in favor of her failing. Is there, I ask you, any better way to begin what is promised as the first in a series?
I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed this book or how fast I was to finish, close the book, and then turn to the front again so that I could instantly reread it again to make sure I was right in how good it truly was.
I wasn’t wrong. It’s amazing.
The Burn Zone is the first book in many years that has left me elated and confused, all at the same time; elation at having read possibly the best science-fiction book I’ve come across in practically forever and confusion over the fact that I do not know how to explain why I loved the book so much.
I could say it’s a great story, which it is, but that’s not it. I could say that it’s some truly stellar writing, which it is built of, but that’s not it. I could say many things, ultimately, but what I will chose to end this by saying that I wholeheartedly wish for each and every person who comes across this review would buy themselves a copy as soon as possible…and read it.
Thank me after the third rereading of it. I’ll wait.