Smoke is the sequel to Ellen Hopkin’s novel Burned.
Right of the bat there were a few MAJOR changed to the world of this novel. First, it was clear that Ellen Hopkins had done more research when writing this book. The whole blanket terminology when coming to LDS Church has been lifted, which is nice.
Instead, Hopkins chooses to focus her energy into making this book EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS than the previous novel. Instead of farm drama we have illegal immigrants and terrorists.
After shooting her father out of revenge, Pattyn has fled her family. She knows that she will be caught eventually so she decides: she’s always wanted to see the ocean. Pattyn decides that she might as well see it before she’s locked inside a cell forever. She flees to California where she meets up with a family who manage to hook her up with a maid job at a rich family’s house.
Where Pattyn’s story is stereotypical at best, it is her sister’s story that actually held our attention. Pattyn’s younger sister Jackie was raped by another member of their Church. Her Father walks in on her rape and blames his daughter and begins beating her to death. At the start of the novel Jackie’s mother refuses to agknowledge everything that has been done to her daughter. She even goes as far as inviting Jackie’s rapist and his father to their family Thanksgiving dinner. Throughout the novel Jackie needs to overcome the trauma that she has been put through and find her voice to speak up against those who are trying to silence her. These parts of the book are very heartfelt and well done and I have to give Hopkin’s credit where credit is due.
Smoke manages to take away the one thing that I liked about Burned’s ending. When we leave Pattyn, off in Burned, she decides that she has nothing left to live for and she wants revenge for how she has been wronged. The reader doesn’t know if she’s going to actually follow through with that wish. Will she return home and enact her vengeance? Will she actually murder her father? Who knows. Smoke takes away that ambiguity and leaves us with a “good” ending.
Overall Smoke has a very fanfic-y nature to it. Hopkin’s seems dead set on giving Pattyn a fairy tale ending. Where Burned argued that you can only have one forever love, Smoke argues that that is false. Smoke is true to it’s name. It’s murky, confusing and annoying. It has a few decent moments but other than that it’s forgettable.