When I read Perfect Ruin, the first book in this series, I liked it, but I wasn't blown away by it. It was a middle of the road three stars. I thought the writing was spectacular and there was some good world building, but it just moved way too slowly and not a whole lot happened until the very end. I love Lauren DeStefano's writing and I was holding out hope that Burning Kingdoms would build on what was started in the first book and develop the characters a little more and pick up the pace a bit. I'm very happy to report that this second book is a definite improvement on the first.
The writing in this book is just so good. Lauren has a way with words that very few writers have. Her prose is lyrical and sometimes poetic. It's really just a joy to read. She has this magical way of putting words together that's hard to describe. For example, here's one of my favorite paragraphs:
She is a woman slowly being realized. Her father is afraid of that, and I'd like to tell her so, but I don't know how to say the words in a way that would make sense. I don't know how to explain that we have more power than we know. We are young and bright and waiting to see what we are capable of. The ocean's mist has caused our hair to frizz around our faces, and I wish that I could hold this moment still, because it is perfect.
The characters and their relationships are also much more developed in this book. New friendships are made, old ones start to fade. Things happen that are not always comfortable and neat between people. These characters seemed very real to me. More so than in the first book.
Where this book lacks, and why I didn't give it 5 stars, is in its plot. It all makes sense and the pacing is better than in the first book, but I still felt like not a whole lot actually happened. There are some exciting and plot changing scenes that were great, but as a whole, this book is much more about the characters than it is about the actual plotline. I would have liked more story development.
Overall, this book is worth a read for the writing style alone. I enjoyed the story and loved the characters and am looking forward to the third book in the series.
Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.