Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan

Crash and Burn On April 21, 2008, Steven "Crash" Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal. What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers' lounge of Meadows High. And what you definitely don't know are the words that Burn whispered to Crash right as the siege was ending, a secret that Crash has never revealed.

Until now.

Michael Hassan's shattering novel is a tale of first love and first hate, the story of two high school seniors and the morning that changed their lives forever. It's a portrait of the modern American teenage male, in all his brash, disillusioned, oversexed, schizophrenic, drunk, nihilistic, hopeful, ADHD-diagnosed glory. And it's a powerful meditation on how normal it is to be screwed up, and how screwed up it is to be normal.

My Review:

Crash and Burn is a fascinating and dark story.  The book is long, but it keeps the reader engaged in the story.  From the beginning, you know what will happen at the end, but you don't know the journey it will take to get to that point.  The characters are well-developed and the way the book is written is interesting.


I love the way that this story is told.  I found it to be a unique plot device.  This book is supposed to be the book that the protagonist, Crash, wrote.  The story alternates between parts where Crash talks about his past, and parts where Crash mentions things going on in the present time frame, as he's writing the novel.  This setup allows the reader to see how parts of Crash's story from the past and present intertwine.  You can see his current interactions with a person, and the ways he interacted with that same person in the past.

Crash is not always a very nice guy, and, though he did save the school, he doesn't usually act heroic.  He doesn't really treat girls very well.  For example, in the present storyline, he was kind of dating Christina, and at the same time, he slept with Claudia.  He didn't think either of them would find out or really care.  He also likes to drink and smoke marijuana.  The marijuana smoking eventually leads to a little bit of trouble with the press.  Crash's story is very well conveyed.  It shows his family problems, especially with his dad.  Crash's male POV is well written, and it shows what it is like to be in the mind of someone with ADHD.

The other main character, Burn, is clearly messed up and has a lot of problems.  The book shows his journey from elementary school up through the day he takes the school hostage.  As a kid, he seems slightly unstable, but he is also a genius and can sometimes be a good guy.  As he reaches high school, things start to really go wrong for him.  He loses his parents, and, eventually, someone else close to him.  Once he loses these people, he starts to really go crazy, and he takes the school hostage.  Luckily, Crash stops the siege before anyone can get hurt, but clearly Burn needs a lot of help.

If you like YA contemporary with a male POV, read this book. 



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