I can’t even begin to review this book in my usual style: plot, what I liked about it, what I didn’t like about it, and end with a summary. This book deserves much more than this kind of review, and yet as I sit here, trying to write it, I have no idea where to begin.
Having finished this incredible piece of literature only moments ago, I should start by saying that it was not a book I chose. I received an inquiry quite a while ago as to whether I would like to review this book, and I agreed. I received a copy of the novel in the mail, was drawn to the fabulous cover, and then put it on my schedule to read. Having gotten a little behind in my review writing, I had to push it back a couple of times. By the time I finally decided it was time to read it, I had completely forgotten what the book was about.
This is usually my MO, and, I must say, I really prefer going into a book without any preconceived notions, with no memory of the plot or the point of the story. This way, I feel I can really have a true idea about whether I liked it or not. It just works for me.
True confessions time: though the cover art is intriguing, I had, more or less, resigned myself to reading the book. I kept pushing it off, reading other stuff, knowing, somehow, that this book was heavy It weighs in at a hefty 535 pages, and though I am a pretty fast reader, I soon found that it wasn’t the number of pages that took me so long to read it; it was the story itself. Intense and intriguing, though not one of those books that totally wears you out (in a bad way), it is a lot of story. A lot of great story.
Simply put, this is a book about how one boy stopped another boy from blowing up their high school, including all of its students and faculty. But this book is anything but simple. The book is more than the story of that day, the day Steven “Crash” Crashinsky became a hero; it is about everything leading up to that day, from Crash’s long, complicated relationship with David Burnett, the almost-perpetrator, to Crash’s own issues with ADHD, drugs and his relationship with his difficult father. Every bit of the back story and what happens after the siege is woven so dexterously into a tale where everything has meaning. Honestly, when I was about 150 pages in, I thought “what else could there be to say?” The answer is: EVERYTHING. There was not one bit of wasted prose in this book.
Incredibly, sometimes painfully, honest, the story does not back off from anything. This boy is real; a living, breathing raging ball of hormones, someone who finds his own, albeit illegal, ways to cope with the ups and downs in his life. And the secondary characters ring with a truth and intensity that contain an authenticity that takes this book beyond mere fiction.
It makes you think: what is a hero? Does the epithet of “hero” make you a completely different person? What happens to the real boy, the boy who parties with his crew and hates his father? The boy that has trouble concentrating in class, the boy who hooks up with random girls because they found him on Facebook? Do those things diminish the label? What’s the difference between a hero and someone that does a heroic act?
And, what is a villain? Is it guy who is too smart and unbalanced for his own good? Is it someone who has been pushed to the edge repeatedly by tragedy? Can it be a mean teacher, a horrible dad, adults who don’t listen? Is it “the system?” Ultimately, this is Crash’s story, so he gets to decide the good guys and bad guys. But he is unflinchingly candid in his answers.
Genres: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 14 and up
You might want to know: There are extreme amounts of weed smoking, jungle juice drinking, sex and language in this book.
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan was published February 19, 2013 by Balzer + Bray. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the author, publisher and EMG Entertainment Marketing Group.
5 of 5 Stars
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