As a travel writer…

I love nothing more than being inspired to travel to a new destination.

As a self-proclaimed eco warrior…

I love reading about environmental protection and some of the most untouched places on earth.

So when I was asked if I wanted to review a new book of fiction set in Brazil and all about protecting the Amazon rainforest, I jumped at the chance.

Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith centres around a young woman named Emma who falls headfirst into a tangled web of lies, deceit, and a fight to save the jungle.

When 22-year-old aspiring journalist Emma Cohen is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story — and a life-threatening situation — when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.

Emma must enter the Amazon rainforest to investigate.

Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lie in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case.  Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father, and dreamy news photographer Jimmy to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.

The plot moves quite fast and is peppered with adventure and a great deal of sexual tension between Emma and the beautiful Brazilian photographer.

There are also lots of underlying sub-plots that make the story multi-dimensional as well as a great twist right at the end that, to be honest, I didn’t see coming.

We have all been the young, naïve traveler.

I found the character of Emma to be a little bit naïve at times; she wants to be a journalist and keeps finding herself in compromising and potentially life-threatening situations for her and those around her. Despite this, I found her to be quite a likeable character. We have all been the young, naïve traveler, and I think that readers (including myself) can relate to the character of Emma.

save-the-rainforestThere are some heavy themes in this book, including kidnapping, blackmail, and a murder, as well as some hot-and-heavy sex scenes. Interestingly, the darker themes do accurately portray the reality of what is currently occurring in the Amazon, including the realities of the exotic animal trade and how it is affecting the indigenous people of the Amazon.

The struggle to protect the jungle

As a journalist who worked as a correspondent in the Amazon, the author, Victoria Griffith, was able to describe in real detail the struggle to protect the jungle as well as the lives of the Yanomami Indians, who feature in the story and form part of the group fighting to protect the Amazon.

I found these factual aspects of the book to be a really strong factor in my enjoyment of the story. When I read a work of fiction and find out that a fascinating culture or history described in the story actually exists, I feel as though the author has put in the research necessary to make the book believable and impactful.

I did find that I read the book very quickly, and because it is marketed towards young adults, I sometimes felt as though it could have explored certain relationships or themes in more depth. And while a lot of emphasis was placed on Emma’s attraction to Jimmy, adding a subplot, it sometimes felt as though it possessed a bit too much focus.

That being said, Victoria Griffith has crafted a really well-written book that is easy to read and weaves themes about taking action to protect the environment into the story without bashing the reader with an obvious moral.

Whilst this book is targeted at a young adult audience, I think that the factual aspects of the story and the setting make it an enjoyable travel read for women of all ages.

Take a trip to Brazil with Amazon Burning!