Title: Crash and Burn
Author: Michael Hassan
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 532 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062112902 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062112903 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Kayla
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.
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.
Quick & Dirty: This is a great book that tears away at you on the inside when you read as real life continues as if nothing has changed. I honestly need a happy book to make up for this one.
Opening Sentence: I’m not gonna lie to you.
Crash and Burn centers around the life of two boys who have known each other since elementary school. First meeting during recess in the third grade, Steven “Crash” Crashinsky and David “Burn” Burnett build an unimaginable relationship that is impossible to describe.
The life that these two boys hold together however is in no way normal. Burn is somewhat of a psychopath and Crash is a paranoid kid with ADHD. Burn is definitely the more crazy of the two, and by their senior year of high school he holds the entire school hostage. It is almost impossible for the school to be saved. Crash, with their long history, is the only one able to really get into Burn’s mind and prevent utter destruction. The mystery lies of what Burn told Crash in those last moments before Burn was turned into the police.
The majority of the book though is describing the life of these two boys from the day they meet, to the day of the hostage crisis, to what is going on in their lives as Burn writes the story. The life of these two boys is definitely filled with parties and girls. Because of this, the book does contain a large amount of profanity and what may be deemed as inappropriate behavior. Many cuss and curse words are used and illegal activities are a common occurrence for these wild teens.
These inappropriate actions however are what really make the characters who they are and even that much more engaging. Burn is definitely a disturbed teenager and smoking marijuana is nothing compared to his other actions.
Honestly the author does a great job of making the book seem as if it were written by a teenage boy. The book is supposedly written and narrated by Crash himself. When reading the book it truly seems as if it is in the mind of a teenage boy who has ADHD, who smokes marijuana, who has newfound fame because of one day, and who has lived a difficult life. For a very long time I believed that the book was based on a true story. It wasn’t until I reached the end that I looked it up and realized that it wasn’t based on a true story. The only reason I ended up looking up whether the book was a true story was that I didn’t want it to be a true story. The ending is so frustrating, so cruel, that I would never want someone to go through so much.
The title of the book is also something that truly amazes me. At first glance I saw the matches and though that an object had crashed and burned. In the first couple of pages I realized that the title represented the characters Crash and Burn. Later, as a friend pointed out, the matches look like the twin towers. One of the matches represents the first tower that was hit by the plane, and the other match represent the second tower that is momentarily unscathed but later also damaged. One has already been lighted while the other one waits. What makes the reference even more relevant is that the twin towers are mentioned several times in the book. In reality Burn was also always like that. He was like a match and any little flame could set him off. Once the flame was lit the outcome was destructive.
And then I look at him for the first time since we started playing and I knew, I totally knew that he is holding three aces and two other cards, and I am sure, totally and completely confident, bet on it positive, that those other two cards, whatever they are, are also a pair.
Which would give him a full house.
I reluctantly raised my hand. I already knew that Lindsey had Connelly as a teacher. She called him the toughest teacher she ever had, one of the few teachers that she had hated. Enough, in fact, to actually feel some level of sympathy for me in getting him.
“Brother of Lindsey Crashinsky,” he said matter-of-factly. “You can relax, Mr. Crashinsky. I see that you are 504. No one is expecting you to be the student that Lindsey was. Lighting doesn’t often strike twice, and I really don’t expect of a spark from you. That is, unless you and Mr, Burnett decide to once again display your pyrotechnical abilities.”
FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Crash and Burn. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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