Book Review: Ninth City Burning (Ninth City Burning, #1) by J. Patrick Black

cover for ninth city burning
© Ace Books, 2017.


For fans of Ender’s Game, Red Rising, and The Hunger Games comes an explosive, epic science fiction debut…

Cities vanished, gone in flashes of world-shattering destruction. An alien race had come to make Earth theirs, bringing a power so far beyond human technology it seemed like magic. It was nearly the end of the world–until we learned to seize the power, and use it to fight back.

The war has raged for five centuries. For a cadet like Jax, one of the few who can harness the enemy’s universe-altering force, that means growing up in an elite military academy, training for battle at the front–and hoping he is ready. For Naomi, young nomad roaming the wilds of a ruined Earth, it means a daily fight for survival against the savage raiders who threaten her caravan.

When a new attack looms, these two fledging warriors find their paths suddenly intertwined. Together with a gifted but reckless military commander, a factory worker drafted as cannon fodder, a wild and beautiful gunfighter, and a brilliant scientist with nothing to lose–they must find a way to turn back the coming invasion, or see their home finally and completely destroyed.” (Source: Goodreads)


J. Patrick Black’s debut novel, Ninth City Burning, is an incredibly intense ride alongside humanity’s bid for survival against an alien race seeking Earth’s destruction. Complete with a wide cast of unique characters with their own voices, this novel has earned its place among my favorites.

More often than not, I’m wary of books with shifting first-person. In this case, readers meet seven different points of view – and every single one of those characters have their own voices. I find this impressive, considering the frequency with which Black switches between his cast. (Actually, I find myself wondering how he approached writing the different views, as they are so starkly different.)

For the most part, all but two of these characters feel real. Jax and Naomi are the exception, as they both appear extremely mature for their age. While Jax does have a military upbringing, Naomi is a bit too advanced for a child of a nomadic lifestyle. There’s also a dash of romance in this book that feels a bit too forced.

Ninth City Burning also manages to blur the line between science-fiction and epic fantasy, which is an oddly unique feeling to encounter while reading. Magic and science both play heavy roles in this novel, and I imagine the former of those two, coupled with the camaraderie between the main characters, is precisely why this book is recommended for fans of Harry Potter.

The agonizingly slow build-up to action further lends to the epic fantasy feel of this book, a feat that I remain unsure of presently. While it leads to less action and battle in the meat of the book, it also serves as an opportunity for Black to further unravel this beautiful world he has created.

Ninth City Burning is definitely a book I’ll be recommending to my friends and readers who prefer science-fiction. I would like to thank Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book for the purpose of unbiased review.

Rating: 💀💀💀💀

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