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Monday, November 16, 2015

'Burn' The Rephaim #4 by Paula Weston


From the BLURB:

Suddenly, Gaby remembers everything. 

For a year she believe she was a backpacker chilling out in Pandanus Beach. Working at the library. Getting over the accident that killed her twin brother. 

Then Rafa came to find her and Gaby discovered her true identity as Gabe: one of the Rephaim. Over a hundred years old. Half angel, half human, all demon-smiting badass and hopelessly attracted to the infuriating Rafa. Now she knows who faked her memories, and how—and why it’s all hurtling towards a massive showdown between the forces of heaven and hell. 

More importantly, she remembers why she’s spent the last ten years wanting to seriously damage Rafa.

‘Burn’ is the fourth and final book in Australian author Paula Weston’s young adult supernatural series, ‘The Rephaim’. 

I did not want to read this book, and at the same time I’ve been dying to read this book! Yes, the epic struggle every reader must face as they come to the end of a favourite series – when we want to find out what happens, but don’t want the adventure to end. So perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to Ms Weston is a conflicting one; when I say I absolutely loved this book, but I hate that the series has ended. 

‘Burn’ picks up from the epic cliff-hanger of Book 3 ‘Shimmer’, when Gaby’s beloved Pan Beach was facing imminent attack by demons … and she also happened to get her lost memories of some 130+ years of life as an angel-spawn-warrior back. Yes – Weston hits the ground running in this epic finale, and she never lets up. 

In ‘Burn’, fans will be reminded that the events of these four books take place over just one week in the series’ timeline. Yes, ‘Shadows’, ‘Haze’, ‘Shimmer’ and ‘Burn’ are set in just one week of Gaby’s life; from the moment Rafa’s mysterious hooded figure first appears in her sleepy beach town, to Gaby getting 130+ years’ of memories back in the blink of an eye. But Weston makes beautifully perfect sense of this elastane timeline – she has, after all, written a supernatural series with immortal, heavenly creatures who can transport to any place in the world with just a thought. And at one point, Gabriella muses on the complexity of her immortality, revealing that Weston has craftily made readers feel as infinite as she does via the book’s elongated timeline; 

A thousand stars fill the sky, ghosts of dead suns suspended in infinite blackness. 
Infinite.  
I’ve never been able to get my head around the concept. How can space be endless? How can time have no beginning and no end? How can I – made of flesh and blood and bone – live forever? How can other realities exist somewhere out there – or right here – side by side with ours? Hell dimensions and heavenly dimensions. Endless realms in between, one of which is probably hiding, or holding, the Fallen.  
Where do we fit in the universe? We exist in this world but we’re tied to other, unseen worlds. We are Rephaim, children of the forsaken. What future exists for us if we find the Fallen? What future exists for us if we don’t?  
God, my brain hurts. 

Weston really plays around with time and memory in this book, which is no easy feat when the crux of the story has been a very human Gaby discovering that she’s actually a very old angel-spawn warrior whose memories were wiped. Weston provides back-story to the decade-old feud between Gabriella and Rafa that saw her turn away from her twin brother Jude when he formed the Outcasts … we are also flung back to just a year ago, and the events surrounding Jude and Gaby’s reuniting and disappearance. 

I have to work out how to wear my old life. I’ve been someone else for a whole year; I’m a different shape now. 

I’m not always a fan of the flashback – but Weston has a beautifully nuanced and complex few in ‘Burn’. I was particularly impressed at how well Gaby’s interior voice changes – between her human self being given back her past memories, and going back to ten-years-ago when Gabriella is a hardened Rephaim fighter. There’s real distinction in the Gaby/Gabriella’s first-person-narratives, and I found myself liking old-Gabriella just as much as the Gaby I’ve been reading since ‘Shadows’. 

I especially loved the way Weston reveals Gaby and Rafa’s tumultuous history. We all knew it was coming – this couple who’ve been drawn and repelled to one another, who have a slow-burn chemistry that’s simply delicious to read – but I tip my hat to Weston for making the pay-off so completely worthwhile. It’s been building up over four books now, but Weston managed to both give Gaby and Rafa enough plausible hurt in their history, tempered with the fiery romance they’ve been building throughout this series … they’re a masterstroke of a coupling, and as this series concludes I’m mostly going to miss their duck-and-weave romancing. 

Jude is another stand-out in this book which, again, is kinda impressive for a character that readers were only formally introduced to one book ago. But loving Jude so much in ‘Burn’ is bittersweet … but only if this really is the last-last-last time we’ll get any ‘Rephaim’ stories from Paula Weston. Probably because he’s been such a big part of this story, even with so little real-time page-time, Jude still feels like a mystery that readers could have fun unwrapping. And because I loved where Jude ended up by the end of this book, I’m crossing my fingers that maybe Paula Weston has some spin-off, short-stories SOMETHING – ANYTHING up her sleeve!

Highlight for spoiler!

[And because I loved where Jude ended up by the end of this book, I’m crossing my fingers that maybe Paula Weston has some spin-off, short-stories SOMETHING – ANYTHING up her sleeve!]

I don’t want to go too much into the plot details of ‘Burn’ – save to say, Paula Weston answers all our most burning questions and still leaves us wanting MORE … indeed, the book ends with so much possibility. Which is what you want from a series that was all about immortal teenagers – the sense that their crazy, supernatural life goes on and on and on. For me; I’ve loved everything about this series, and the finale was exactly what I wanted. Secrets revealed, lies exposed, romance galore and second-chances. I’m going to miss this world and these characters so damn much, but I thank Paula Weston for gifting readers this epic rollercoaster of a ride. 

5/5

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