Crash and Burn
by Michael Hassan
Format: ARC received through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for my honest review.
Midnight Minute: Crash and Burn have been linked since grade school, and now Crash tells the true story of what went down the day he stopped Burn from blowing up their high school.
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.
~ Steven “Crash” Crashinsky starts off the book by telling us that he’s not going to lie, which normally means that someone is going to tell some really big lies, but in Crash’s case, he is completely truthful.
~ You know that scene from Lost in Translation where Bill Murray whispers something to Scarlett Johansson? Well, when Crash prevents Burn from blowing up the school, Burn whispers something to Crash that he keeps a secret. Most of the book is the lead up to that moment.
~ This is a very male book- Crash hangs out with his crew getting high, sleeping around, and other extracurricular activities that most parents don’t want to know their kids are engaging in. Crash tends to see girls in terms of hook-ups, even with the girls he really likes. It’s realistic, but as a female I found Crash misogynistic and juvenile at times. Burns too, in the way that he views his sister and his crush as his, is both possessive and dismissive of women.
~ I loved Newman, Crash’s best friend. He’s brilliant and supportive, but I can’t help thinking he’s what Burn could have been without the mental illness and trauma.
~ It’s pointed out by several characters that Crash and Burn are connected and in some ways, are similar. As Crash’s story unfolds, the reader sees this. In a strange, demented way, they are friends. But my favorite aspect of their relationship is when Burn tells Crash that they are like Voldemort and Harry Potter.
~ From the very beginning, Crash believes that Burn’s is unstable, but his accusation that Burn’s tried to kill him aren’t taken seriously. Probably because they were just little kids and Burn is an accomplished liar.
~ Burn may be mentally ill, and if so he’s a mix of several, but he’s also brilliant. Even though I knew from the beginning that he’s going to go off the rails and try to blow up the high school, there were times in the book when I was kind of rooting for him to turn his life around.
~ Crash’s dad, Jacob, is a total snobdouche. How different if he’d been in Burn’s dad’s place on 9/11- no, this is not a 9/11 novel, but the tragic event definitely adds to who Burn is.
~ It hurt my heart a bit when Crash says isn’t the point of movies so you can avoid reading the book? Ouch. But understandable because of Crash’s ADHD. I found his negative response to certain kinds of sounds to be interesting.
~ Christina, the object of affection for both Crash and Burn, confuses me as much as she does Crash.
~ You know how most step-mom’s in books are fairly evil? Well sometimes they are awesome, and I love the relationship Crash has with Felicia. Although, really, what the hell does she see in Jacob?
~ There are a lot of characters, almost too many, between the Crew and the Herd (seriously, even the name for the girl’s circle of friends is sexist), and all the other players, but I really loved Marisa and her magical iPod. I need one of those.
~ The book makes a good argument for using medical marijuana to tread ADD and ADHD. Although it also kind of makes the argument that weed is addictive because Crash does an awful lot of it.
~ Despite of all of the drug use, seeing girls as breathing sex toys, and playing video games, I kind of like Crash. He does have a silly charm and a special kind of luck that makes him likeable.
~ The book flips between past and present, and yes, it is a looooong book, and I could have done without all the party scenes and drug use and competition to get the first mouth hug, but it flows fairly quickly. I liked the detail. We really get a clear view of who Crash is, and glimpses of how Burn became almost school shooter.
~ I’m pretty sure girls like Claudia only exist in the imagination of boys.
~ For Burn, everything has to be bigger that it really is or was. It’s not enough that 9/11 happened and he lost someone he loves, it has to be a huge government conspiracy that he obsesses over, and when the girl of his dreams says she only sees him as a friend, Burn has to blame Crash and plot revenge. Very evil genius.
~ Roxanne is totally the Jenny to Crash’s Forest Gump. She was by far the best part of this book.
~ Crash and Burn fits nicely into the New Adult category. It’s got violence, sex and drug use, but it’s not like teens can’t get that in half hour increments on MTV. The book feels a bit like a very detailed Less Than Zero, only without Robert Downey, Jr. being a prostitute and dying.
~ This book totally proves that boys talk! A bunch of testosterone hopped up gossips, every one of them!
~ Right before Crash gets to the story of how he stops Burn from blowing up the school, he warns readers to take their bathroom breaks now, not to skip ahead because we’re going to want to read every word without pause. And he delivers on that promise.
~ Mr. Connelly’s story of Roxanne’s English assignment was one of my favorite moments, loved the songs she picked as well.
~ I can’t say this book is for everyone, but in the end I really liked it, although I would have loved it even more if we’d had Burn’s point of view too.
David ‘Burn’ Burnett– brilliant, troubled, complex and villain like.
Roxanne Burnett– Burn’s older sister, also brilliant, also troubled, and pretty much Crash’s ideal woman.
Jamie and Lindsey- Crash’s sisters.
Newman– Crash’s best friend.
Felicia– Crash’s awesome step-mother, happens to be ridiculously hot.
Christina– if this were and opera, Burn would be her Phantom.
Pete- part of Crash’s group, butts heads with Burn.
Jacob Crashinsky- Crash’s douchey father.
Claudia- smexy hook up girl who is way too into Crash.
Marisa- she of the magical iPod.
Mr. Connelly- slightly jerky teacher.
Dozens more that didn’t make the list.
~Actually, pretty much anything to do with Roxanne. Especially that last bit.
I really had a tough time with this review. I really liked this book, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. And by everyone, I mean the five people who actually read my blog. It’s not a typical YA book. It’s a mix of a lot of things, and it’s super long, but I have a feeling that this book will haunt me for a long time. It’s also a YA book that for once isn’t about pretty dresses or finding out that you’re half-mermaid. It deals with some very uncomfortable situations, but I personally think it’s worth a read.
Crash and Burn gets a Midnight Book Rating of:
I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, but only because you can’t do halves. This wasn’t perfect, but I was completely drawn into the story.