SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 952 What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley Book Review |

What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley cover image

What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Warner Books
Published: 2006
Review Posted: 10/19/2006
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 7 out of 10

What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley

Book Review by Benjamin Boulden

Have you read this book?

Soledad O'Roark is a member of LAPD's MTac-a mutant hunting squad similar to a SWAT team. They hunt down, and capture or kill known mutants. A mutant, or a metanormal as they are called, is a person with an abnormal power-very much like a comic book superhero. And going with the comic book theme: they each have a super power-strength, speed, agility, etc-and in Soledad's world they have been outlawed and are the number one priority of local law enforcement agencies.

In the opening pages Soledad is injured in a metanormal bank heist and transferred to the DMI--Division of Metanormal Investigations--while she recovers. There is plenty of inter-agency squabbling, and so she isn't happy about being in DMI, but she forces herself to focus and do the job. Soledad is surrounded by cops who don't like her--the rivalry between MTac and DMI--and her personal life is a problem. Her ex- is a permanently injured MTac squad leader that she can't stand to even look at because he reminds her of what could happen to any MTac at any moment, and she has a young sidekick (Eddi Aoki) who drives her crazy.

What Fire Cannot Burn is cool in concept, and dry and boring in execution. I was impressed with Ridley's sparse, cool prose. It felt raw, hard and very much in the vein of a crime thriller: "Venice, California, became kind of a shithole for bangers and dealers. Wannabes when they gave up and quit wanting to be anything but what they were which wasn't much."

Unfortunately the cool, slick feel of the prose is the only thing that works in this novel. The characters are boring, whiney, and unattractive. Soledad, from the opening paragraph, can't get past the idea that any minute an MTac can be killed: "And people who do what I do; we're as good as dead." This is a great opening, but it gets old as Soledad dwells on it, whimpers like a baby cub and expects the world to feel her overpowering fear and self pity-no one likes a whiner, especially as a protagonist. The story itself is nothing more than a worked over serial killer novel-add a cabal of evil police officers, a few metanormals, and an overly sensitive and terrified crowd of cops and you can guess the entire story.

I really wanted to like What Fire Cannot Burn, but I was tired and bored with the story, setting, and characters from beginning to end. It is a comic book novel that takes itself too seriously. There is too much character angst and not enough believable action. You should probably find something else, because this one will take too much of your precious reading time.
Click here to buy What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley on Amazon

What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley on Amazon

What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley cover pic
Comment on What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley
Your Name:
Type (case sensitive) here:

Comments on What Fire Cannot Burn, by John Ridley
There are no comments on this book.