Title: Blood Echo
Author: Christopher Rice
Series: The Burning Girl #2
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Pages: 351
Book Source: ARC

“Kidnapped and raised by serial killers, Charlotte Rowe suffered an ordeal that made her infamous. Everyone in the world knew who she was. But no one in the world has any idea what she’s become…

Charlotte is an experiment. And a weapon. Enabled by a superpower drug, she’s partnered with a shadowy pharmaceutical company to hunt down and eliminate society’s most depraved human predators. But her latest mission goes off the rails in a horrifying way. Unsettled by her own capacity for violence, Charlotte wants some time to retreat so she can work on her new relationship with Luke, a sheriff’s deputy in the isolated Central California town she now calls home.

If only the threats hadn’t followed Charlotte there.

Something sinister is evolving in Altamira, California—a massive network of domestic terrorists with ties to Charlotte’s influential and corrupt employers. As a vast and explosive criminal conspiracy grows, the fate of Charlotte’s hometown hangs in the balance. With everyone she cares about in danger, Charlotte has no choice but to bring her powers home.

Charlotte Rowe has been triggered, and now she’ll have to take matters into her own powerful hands.” Amazon

My Review:

My review for the first book in The Burning Girl series, Bone Music, had me feeling just so-so for the book. I was hoping book two in the series would change me mind, after all, I enjoy Sci-Fi, Thrillers, and Serial Killers, so this series should be right in my sweet spot.

Alas, it wasn’t.

My husband and I will lament how often times when we watch a series with a strong female protagonist, that character is often the one we end up liking the least by the end of the series. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is always the first one to come to mind, although there has been many more.

We started discussing this and what we came up with was the whininess of the main, there always needing to be a love interest to protect her, and we realized the characters we didn’t like tended to be written by men. I imagine there are female protagonists out there written by men that we wouldn’t end up disliking in a long series, but we haven’t found them yet. If you know of any, please tell me in the comments below.

With Charlotte, I thought this problem would be solved. A woman who can literally tear apart people with her hands. A loner who didn’t have people in her life. Someone who took care of herself for years, and knew about the cruelness of the world.

But she already fell into the typical strong female protagonist archetype in book one. So why would I read the second book? Because I had hope, that four letter word that has crushed so many.

So onto the good in regards to this book, before we get back to the bad. Christopher Rice does dialogue very well. He is able to have people talk like people do, and includes witty or humorous banter when the situation calls for it. And his action scenes are done well. The ones that were in the book had me turning the pages quickly.

And the way he expanded some of the smaller characters in this book was great. After finishing, Cole is the character that I am rooting for. The grey world this man lives in makes me want to know more. And what Rice wrote about what happened to Cole when he was younger, including how his dad handled the situation, and then how Cole handles a situation when he’s older in a similar fashion, was a fantastic look into Cole’s character, and masterful writing by Rice.

If Rice would write these sort of revelations about Charley, my outlook on her would change. And if Rice was able to write the situation that happened to Cole when he was a boy, in regards to a female, and to write it as well, I would be very impressed.

Rice also started writing more in depth about Dylan in the first book, but then he is completely sidelined in this one. And Bailey, the hacker, played a bigger role, but I want more. Even the new security officer, Scott, was more interesting to me than Charley and Luke this book.

So kill off Charley and Luke while they are having a lover’s spat, and give me a book with Cole, Dylan, Bailey, and Scott!

Now onto the reasons why this book only received three stars from me. The hook to this series is that it’s supposed to be about serial killers. The serial killer storyline was done by page 73. There are over 300 pages left before the book is over. One could argue that Charley was made to kill bad people, and domestic terrorists (the plot of most of the book) are bad people, so Rice has filled his obligation. I will agree to that, but I will also say, I was hooked by serial killers, so I best be getting enough serial killer action to appease me. And I was not appeased.

Then there’s the whole wishy-washy thinking of Charley, in regards to using her powers and the love of her life, Luke, even though he was horrible to her in high school, and she forgave him. In this day and age, that should not be the trope of a strong female anymore. Rice is so well known that he should be using his writing powers for good, and changing the face of the female protagonist.

Charley doesn’t have to use her powers, but since she is, make her a badass. Don’t make her constantly be questioning her actions.

No woman has to have a love interest. She could be celibate, that’s a trope not used often. She could be satisfied with self love and sex toys. Or she could just have one night stands. Woman do not need to have a partner to be interesting.

But if she does have a love interest, make them have great communication skills. Let the world know that relationships work so much better if you communicate. Not pout when someone leaves you behind to go rid the world of evil. Have them tell her everyday that no matter what she does to an evil person, they will not love her any less.

And if you are going to have a group of people around Charley for support, make sure they support her, 100%, all the time. Sure they can worry about her, and they should, since it’s what people do. But don’t be trying to stop her from going to investigate. Charley is a badass. Charley wants to stop evil. Charley is a smart woman, and knows her death could be a consequence (although we have the Sci-Fi angle going on, so will that really happen….)

After all that, will I read the next book in the series? I would like to say no, but the way Rice ended it, I need to see what happens next. And that, to me, just proves he’s a good writer, that could do great things in regards to bringing the strong female protagonist into the present.

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