The Burning Man is the second book in the Fringe prequel trilogy. In the first book, The ZodiacParadox, we are introduced to the young scientists Walter Bishop and William Bell, and their pioneering research in the 1970s that later leads to the Fringe division. The Burning Man introduces us to Olivia Dunham, including her childhood and school years before she later becomes a special agent with the Fringe division.
As a child in the 1980s, Olivia was part of Walter Bishop’s secret experiments using a mind altering drug which unlocks abilities Olivia had no idea she had. On one such occasion she unknowingly uses her gift to protect herself and burns the arm off psycho cop Tony Orsini.
After that, Olivia faces hardships over the course of her childhood, and then her and her sister Rachel are offered unexpected scholarships to a special school. Meanwhile, Tony makes it his life’s mission to track down the “devil girl” that ruined his life, with dangerous consequences for Olivia, Rachel and even her friends at the school.
I enjoyed this book as much as first. The storyline is gripping and so cleverly written with strong scientific prose and well researched descriptions of characters, settings and events. Olivia’s character was easy to like; she’s strong willed, clever, a definite heroine in the making. In this story there are gruesome murders, mad scientists and even a little love story that all keeps you hooked throughout.
This is very much the telling of Olivia’s background and less about Fringe but I imagine it sets the scenes for Olivia’s future role in the Fringe division (I still haven’t watched any of the TV series!). The Burning Man is an excellent second book and I can’t wait to see what the third book holds in store.