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Crash and Burn

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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.

532 pages, Hardcover

First published February 19, 2013

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About the author

Michael Hassan

3 books35 followers
Michael Hassan lives in the Northeast. Crash and Burn is his first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 356 reviews
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews612 followers
March 6, 2013
I haven't been this conflicted over a book since Libba Bray's The Diviners - and for pretty much the same reasons. Crash and Burn is definitely something that I wouldn’t hesitate to call indisputably well conceived and written, yet at the same time, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t aspects to Michael Hassan’s debut novel that didn’t bother me. Don’t get me wrong, I for one totally appreciate how Hassan’s written an incisive contemporary that really speaks to me as a twentysomething guy and needless to say totally loved the concept behind and writing of the book, but Crash’s narration also struck me as excessively long, convoluted, and just dragged on and on and on. So my status after reading this? It's complicated.

I know the length and style is a conscious decision on Hassan’s part - Crash getting a book deal to sell his story’s used as a framing device to explore not only his character but also the character of his - close acquaintance? not quite friend? frenemy? something? - Burn (yeah, it’s a complicated relationship... no, of course it is) and is fine on its own, but add to that Crash’s ADHD and his tendency to tell the story in a massive spew of information, current relevance be damned, and I just couldn’t make heads or tails of a lot of things for most of the book. Not to mention the somewhat confusing tendency to skip between events with no warning. I certainly wasn’t bored - even though the majority of the story is about Crash and not about what Burn does or why he does it, Crash’s irreverent style and flippant attitude towards drugs and getting laid definitely is the kind of (crass) male point of view that I’ve sorely missed after reading so many female young adult authors trying their hands and failing at coming up with a relatable guy narrator, and - nah, that’s just it, guys are crass. Sorry. And it works too because I'm pretty sure only a male author would know to include a constant stream of nineties pop culture and gaming references that brings back so many fond memories, like take for example the origin of the nickname Crash (you may be thinking Stephen Crashinsky, duh, but...):
The one thing was: PlayStation had a new game that was, in fact, the best game ever, a game that I would become closely identified with.

The game in question had come out a few months before and was about a red-and-brown, two-legged dog-thing that kept running and running and running and running, jumping over ditches, spinning around turtles, popping on them, sending them hurling into space, and then running while being chased by humongous boulders and having to jump over pits, while spinning through crates and breaking things, never stopping, except to get an oingaboinga and otherwise stop and you’re dead.

Yeah, I’m guessing only a guy would go ‘Crash Bandicoot!’ so I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a certain kind of reader to ‘get’ Crash, to understand why a guy would identify with a video game character, but I swear, it’s a brilliant take on a brilliant character.

Unfortunately, not everything hits right away like the double meaning behind Crash's nickname - the point of Crash’s relationship with Burn’s sister Roxanne for example eluded me for most of the book. In retrospect, not only should I have seen what happens to her coming, but it works (and hits like a ton of bricks when it does) because I wasn’t anticipating it - it’s so unexpected and unexpectedly written - especially with how it pertains to the hook of the book, the secret Burn shares with Crash when he takes the school hostage. Still, the way Hassan does it, by drawing out this messy, convoluted, strange relationship, left me deeply dissatisfied; I guess I just don’t like being left grasping for straws for most of the book trying to figure out Roxanne’s role when it was so obvious at the end. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel Hassan takes too long getting to a point where everything makes sense and a lot of the beginning could and should have been edited out. And even now that I've made sense of it all, I still feel while I understand Crash's character quite well, maybe even completely, I don't think I fully understand Burn. It's obvious he's always been disturbed, Crash makes that quite clear with the nickname and the fox incident and his constant paranoia at Burn doing things, but I'm trying to figure out if Hassan's saying a combination of Burn's father dying on September 11, his mother dying of cancer, and then what happens to Roxanne pushes him over the edge... and I guess I see it but it feels sort of flimsy for what he ultimately does. Maybe it’s because there are still connections, like Christina, that I feel are still outstanding, or maybe it’s because it seems like even Crash's sister Lindsey gets a better lesson out of what happened to Roxanne, but either way I felt there was just something missing to Burn.

Really surprisingly, the most interesting part (at least for me) of Crash and Burn isn't Crash's (sort of) relationship with Burn, which is kind of hit or miss with some great scenes like the poker game or the Thanksgiving dinner but a lot of filler as well, but another tangential part of the story, Crash's relationship with his father Jacob Crashinsky. Parental hypocrisy is not a topic that's usually covered in young adult, and rarely well, so the entire storyline with Crash's father disapproving of his marijuana use while himself using marijuana was... really hilarious. See this exchange about getting high while high:
Newsguy: “So then are you advocating that people with ADD smoke marijuana?”
Me: “No, I’m not whatever-you-call-it for anything. Look, I’m just an eighteen-year-old kid looking to have a little fun in my last summer before college. Clearly, those pictures show a few people having a good time. When was the last time you had a good time?”
Newsguy: “This isn’t about me.”
Me: “Yeah, but when was the last time you smoked weed? The truth. If you’re gonna ask me that, then don’t I have a right to know about you?”
Newsguy (definitely uncomfortable, so I’m thinking maybe I got him and he can be the news story instead of me): “Steven, what I’m hearing from you is that you’re making light of your use of what is currently an illegal substance. And that while you began this interview with apologies, it seems that you are unrepentant.”
Me: “Actually, it seems to me that you are making a big deal out of nothing. Like every kid, virtually every kid in my high school, has gotten high from time to time. And it’s just not in my school, it’s every school throughout the country. And it’s every college. And it’s probably every office and business too. If you polled the people around us right now, like probably half of them are still getting high. Probably even you, like I said before. Even my father still smokes weed now and then. Even at his age. So why are we making such a big deal out of these pictures?”
OK, here there is a superlong pause. Long enough to fit an entire commercial between what I just said and the next sentence.
Newsguy: “Are you saying that your father smokes marijuana? How do you know this?”

Let’s just say I don’t know where else I would ever read about marijuana use so plainly that still involves a kid discovering his father’s pot stash, nicknaming it Jacob’s Gold, and then raving about it whenever he takes a hit, but there’s just something totally irreverent to the whole thing that has Crash making a serious point yet being completely flip while doing it - it’s definitely extremely clever and worthy of the Pineapple Express comparison. Still, that’s also the problem with the book, I don’t think this really is a book about Crash and Burn, Burn’s role is almost too simple in the grand scheme of things, and between how Burn comes in and out of events and the focus on tangential aspects of the story like the drugs, it’s really a book about Crash.

Sure, that’s not a bad thing, but it’s still a problem - there’s just too much filler that, while enjoyable, has nothing to do with what’s needed to make Crash and Burn work. And that's why I’m conflicted, there’s just too much about Crash being Crash and not enough about Crash and Burn.
Profile Image for P.E..
499 reviews25 followers
May 15, 2013
I've given Crash and Burn some honest thought, and I think I love it. The operative word being "think" because there's a lot to hate too, and I can see why some people didn't enjoy this book.

But in this review, mine is the only opinion that matters and I'll do my best to explain why this book messed me up so bad.

See, I thought the writing was refreshing. It's not artistic and pretty. It's not stupidly plain. The writing has a voice and so when I read this book, I could imagine Crash talking. There was credibility because Crash had such attitude and it was all there. There is swearing but the real, natural kind. Nobody was trying too hard. There were pop culture references which I totally understood although Crash is a few years older than me. There was rambles which made sense since Crash is not a professional writer. He's kind of self absorbed and this is his book and he'll put whatever he wants in it.

The most endearing quality of Crash and Burn is the believability. Crash is a believable character. Getting to know him is unreal because there are so many layers and parts to his life that he's almost tangible. I can see him. I can imagine him. It's like one of my wishes when I was a kid, to be able to live as someone else, came true because I got to experience the world through the eyes of Stephen Crashinsky, a messed up and real kid.

The most interesting thing is that I don't even know if I like Crash. I don't know if I don't. It doesn't seem to matter because Crash is Crash. There are times he disgusted me, like all the stupid times he lit up and how he was such a manwhore who treated girls like crap. Maybe if I met him for real, I would hate him because he is a jerk. I know I wouldn't like him.


There's more to people than what you see, and this holds true with Crash. He's an asshole and makes some baaad decisions, but there are some moments where I want to hug him because he's real. He's screwing up and dealing with what everybody feels in his own way. From his protectiveness of his sister, to his relationship with his asshole of a father, to his brutal honesty, Crash won me over. He's a tool; a jerk. But I can't say I don't hate him. It's not even about like or hate; Crash feels real to me in a way you never see people or books.

He has all these messed up thoughts in his head, all these awkward moments full of attitude and uncertainty that are fundamental to life. I was never bored with this book. I was completely and utterly engrossed in Crash's story.

And it was a long book. Like, over 500 pages of emotional, real, funny, disgusting shit and it kind of messed with me. It was a real and unfiltered account of Crash's life with hardships and success. The story wasn't chronological and jumped from scene to scene. I loved it because it brought so much insight to Crash's world. There were so many different themes going on; so many storylines that flowed in and out. Recurring characters, fading characters, and new characters. So much about life as a teenager in this time period, and responsibility, and not knowing who to be and how to act. There were surprisingly emotional stories because I could connect. My life isn't like Crash's at all, but the basic feelings are there. I even feel like I went on a bit of a journey with the main character. This book is one of those books.

What originally drew me into the story was the concept: school shooting, who did it and why? I was curious about Burn and I was not expecting too much from this book. I was surprised at how layered the story was. Especially the characters: there's so much to them. Burn was supposed to be a draw although this story really is about Crash. Their relationship was fascinating.

We all have that friend we've known since forever. The ones we don't really consider friends but were a part of our childhood. Maybe our parents hung out together and we hated them. We grew up together though and this is a link that, no matter what happens in the future, will always exist. That is Crash and Burn. They have a bond. It's weird and messed up and you can't even explain it properly because it is constantly evolving. Crash owes a lot to Burn. Crash also hates Burn. Crash feels bad for Burn. Watching the way their lives are linked is so fascinating if not disturbing. Burn is a genius although screwed up. He's vengeful and smart. Actually, there's really no way to describe Burn beyond that he is. Somehow, Burn's actions make sense in some twisted way when considering his character.

That's what I think needs to be said about this book. While Burn's actions are the premise, the story really didn't need things to go so extreme to draw you in. It's a book about people and the stuff that defines them. It is not a feel good story. It doesn't try to be inspiring. It doesn't leave with a happy ending. It is the story of one dude's life to this point, and somehow it is one of the best books I've ever read. I want to reread this book. I want to buy it (I previously got it from the library).

Crash and Burn makes me think and feel. I don't normally write reviews this long, but this book has inspired me in some ways. To do what I want to do. To listen to myself. To realize that even the stupidest little things like some random beans can save someone's life, but at the same time how can beans really save a life?

5 stars.
Profile Image for Runa.
618 reviews33 followers
November 28, 2013
Okay, let's start this review off by mentioning that a drunk person cannot consent to sex. Because the main character of this book has a lot of sex with girls who are drunk, high, or both, and let's just clarify right off the bat that that's 110% not okay. Sex and drugs basically set the tone of this book, with one or the other mentioned practically on every page of the story. A lot of really problematic behaviors are normalized, with the main characters constantly treating women like objects for his own pleasure and it's kind of sickening to read. I did really enjoy the writing style, but I'm a huge fan of stream of consciousness style writing. I can see how some readers would find the story difficult to follow, but that certainly depends on the person reading the book. As far as the book's portrayal of mental illness in YA, I'm a little concerned that it does perpetuate the whole 'mentally ill individuals are violent' myth, but the main character does act as a foil to that idea as a character with ADHD who ends up the hero of the story, though again, his actions throughout the book were less than heroic up until the final confrontation with Burn. I think this would have been an amazing novel if not for Crash's vile treatment of women, and it's pretty disappointing to see a YA novel that seems to glorify his behavior. It's one thing to have an unlikable protagonist that learns and grows and changes throughout the book, it's another to have a protagonist whose problematic interactions are not explained or excused or evolved in any way.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
February 12, 2013

Steven Crashinsky -- Crash -- was the person who talked David Burnett -- Burn -- down when he held his school captive. But what was it Crash said to get Burn to stop?

Unfolding over 540 pages is Crash's growing up with and without Burn in his life. The two of them were never friends, but they spent a not-insignificant amount of time with one another. Crash tells this story through his ADD-afflicted mind and it's told as though he's writing a book. But it's not entirely linear, as the story goes from the perspective of the book Crash is writing to the present, when he's angsting about the book he's writing. See, Crash became a hero the day he talked Burn out of the hostage situation. Everyone wanted to know what it was he said. Reporters hounded him. It wasn't until the book contract, worth lots of cash, that he finally decided he'd tell the tale.

This story is long, and it's indulgent, but it gets away with it because of the gimmicky set up. There's the ADD main character, so the way he writes and thinks and organizes his thoughts is, in a way, forgive by this. Moreover, the story-told-through-a-story set up further allows for indulgence (especially given that Crash is the hero here). Yes, he's been hurt, but the endless ramblings about who he was sleeping with, what drugs he was doing, and what parties he attended were not enough to warrant such a massive tome. It was more about the history that mattered. In other words, when Crash gave us Burn's history, when Crash gave us his own family history and struggles, that's when the story picked up. The parties and sexcapades didn't give us anything. It felt, quite honestly, like moments for the reader to relate to Crash. But there's no need to do so.

Many of the characters blend together, but that's okay -- it's sort of the point of the story and sort of Crash's mentality. More interesting to me, though, was Burn's story. But Roxanne

The story does move quite fast, despite the length. There's certainly something to be said about appeal here. Readers will relate to a lot of what Crash talks about. It's extremely contemporary in that it tackles and exposes the truths of living in today's society -- there are pop culture references (which arguably do NOT need to be there because they're pointless), but there is a lot here about mental health, about education, about the fact people fall between the cracks, about grief and loss, about how events like 9/11 deeply and profoundly impact not just those who lost loved ones, but anyone who remembers what happened. There is, of course, the terror and fear of a high school hostage situation. Of people off the rails in their need for help and for connection and love and trust with one another. It's impressive what Hassan achieves in the story level. Unfortunately, the writing level is less impressive.

There's a readership here. I can see teen boys loving this. It's the quintessential book of TODAY'S TEEN BOY. The problem is, of course, it is a hulking novel. It is intimidating. I'm not sure those who would benefit the most from this will stick it out. Crash and Burn could have been half the length -- pulling out things like the unnecessary pop culture references, the listing of television shows, etc would have done it. Of course, it's excusable because this is Crash writing a book from Crash's ADD perspective. So, he gets away with it.

Full review here: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/02/c...
Profile Image for Becky.
831 reviews12 followers
March 17, 2014
I have mixed feelings about this book, and here they are, kind of scatter-brained.

Crash, the main character, is a pretty repulsive character. He's a poor little rich boy that I never quite managed to be sorry for. Set up against Burn, the manic depressive boy genius whose natural destructive tendencies are exasperated by loss after loss after loss, and his father, a sociopath businessman, Crash certainly sees himself as innocent - a hero even. What's disturbing then, is the ways he can't see how similar he is to the two men he fears. To Crash, he is almost never at fault at school or at home; he objectifies and trivializes women, and is a deliberate date rapist. He excuses himself from everything on account of his ADHD, and this makes him a pretty unreliable narrator and a pretty shitty person. When I read reviews talking about how typical of a boy Crash is, it worries me.

There are many times in the book when, as if to remind us that this book is taking place at a particular place in time, Crash lists of names of movies that were playing at the time. More than other pop culture references made in the book, this annoyed me. A list of movies. And yet, toward the end of the book, I'm near the end of a two page spread of lists of drugs he did and movies playing in the theaters over a summer, when a plot bomb is dropped. I was really surprised, shockingly surprised actually, and I wondered if this tedious listing of pop culture things throughout the book was part of a narrative device leading this moment. And then I couldn't decide if it was brilliant or cheap. It was moving though, and the one part in the book where I really empathized with Crash's character.

So. What is this book about? Does it say something about heroism and villainy? Can Crash's one moment of good action make him a hero despite everything else? Can we believe other people in his life are as he says they are?
Profile Image for Rachel.
15 reviews12 followers
September 5, 2013
I just finished this book and I'm still in tears and I should be in bed but I have to write this review.

I hated this cocky little punk Crash when I started the book. He was every douche I knew in high school, charming his way out of trouble and into girls' pants.

But that's just part of the story. This book about a hard-partying, womanizing kid with ADHD and his frenemy that almost blew up his high school, it turns out, is actually a beautiful, sad, brutal, sweet, thought provoking novel. It might even be a love story.

I can't begin to do justice to all the things that are so right about the book, but I'll point out a few:
- Crash's voice is honest, raw and real. Honest whether it flatters him or not.
- Burn is a complex human being, not just a "psycho."
- Roxanne...where to begin. One of the best characters I've ever read.
- Between the two of them (Roxanne and Burn), mental illness is portrayed in an honest and kind way.
- I'm a sucker for a story that can make me love characters I want to hate.
- it's nice to read a YA novel with a male protagonist for a change.

Definitely one of my all time faves.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
688 reviews3,623 followers
August 2, 2014
This book was PERFECT! This book was everything I wanted! I went into it not knowing anything about it, because I couldn't seem to get a clue from the synopsis. Now, it is - hands down - one of my absolute favourite books! It reminded me so much of "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger. Even though the story is very different, the writing style, tone of voice and main character are very similar and I loved that about it!
Profile Image for Sara Williams.
278 reviews795 followers
December 20, 2015
School shootings and suicide and absent parental figures and a lot of shit faced drunk/stoned people and partying and a very annoying sort of narrative can pretty much describe what this book felt like.
It doesn't follow a chronological narrative which can be an hassle, but still that's one of the smallest problems I have with Crash and Burn.
We're in the mind of this 16(?) year old boy named Crash, who saved his entire school from getting blown to pieces by this guy called Burn and guess what, THEY'RE BOTH EQUALLY FUCKED UP IN THE HEAD. To move on to explain why that is would be too much trouble, so just pick up the book yourself if you're interested. Our boy Crash then gets to write a book about the events of his life surrounding Crash, and 'Crash and Burn' has us moving from them meeting when they were kids until they're young adults.
There are so many hilarious scenes and characters I want to pinpoint, like the marijuana stash, Crash's delirious arguments with his father, his relationship with Felicia, and the beauty of his moments with Roxanne - but it all gets lost. 530 pages of rambleness, to be honest. If 200+ pages of this novel were cut out, this would be bliss.
Well, not really, because let's not forget our main character is a major asshole. And not the sort of asshole you accept and want to punch in the face, really the sort of guy you despise and want to stay the fuck away from - all the damn boy does is whine about how unfair his life was, because oh my god I only have 300 bucks in my credit card, and oh my god my father sucks, and oh man I spent all my time getting stoned it's so much fun! I treat girls like shit, it's soooo much fun!
Straight up I have no patience to read about these sort of silly characters, they get on my nerves and I never get to learn anything from them at all.
Profile Image for Irina Elena.
678 reviews170 followers
January 3, 2015
This is another one of those books that I can't seem to review.
Whether it's because I don't have the time, or because I don't really feel like it, or because I can't figure out what to say, whenever I think of sitting my ass down and doing it I never actually end up doing it.
Which is weird, since I loved the hell out of this book.

Crash is an extremely fun and relatable character, and even though his narration often assumes a comedic, slightly off-kilter tone, what he goes through never stops feeling real, and his problems and feelings and actions, whether you agree with them or not, are completely, undeniably human.

All of Hassan's characters are multifaceted, but still clearly defined - not exactly fitting a precise stereotype, but always acting in a way that makes sense when related to who they are.

The answer, the secret, the thing you want to know from the moment you open the book? You'll have to wait for it. Quite a lot. And I'm usually the first to be disappointed by secrets I'm forced to anticipate for ages, but this was worth it - firstly, because it's satisfying and shocking and thought-provoking enough on his own; secondly, because everything that happens before and around it in insanely gripping, juicy and entertaining.

Loved it, great book, 10/10 would read another by the same author - aaand I'm out.
Profile Image for Audra.
114 reviews10 followers
September 26, 2013
What in the holy heck did I just read? Crash and Burn is a long winded, scatterbrained story about a boy, Stephen Crashinsky and his pratical life long fear of a fellow sometimes classmate David Burnett. Both kids have their fair share of issues, certainly one more so than the other.

I wouldn't say I hated this book so to speak, but I found it a bit tiresome. It's a very long book. The subject matter is a bit disheartening given recent events.

I wouldn't say the book is terrible. The book had a bit of a Citizen Kane complex. I kept reading so I could find out what Burn had told Crash. There were times I wanted to put the book back on my shelf and move on to a new read. But I HAD to find out what was said. I literally felt like I couldn't sleep without finding out this bit of information. The big secret ended up totally not being worth pushing through the book.
Profile Image for Kathy Cunningham.
Author 4 books9 followers
January 28, 2013
Michael Hassan's CRASH AND BURN is one hell of a fantastic novel. It's witty and brilliant and funny and terrifying and damn near impossible to forget. Eighteen-year-old Steven Crashinsky is probably the most absolutely real, totally authentic teenage protagonist since Salinger's Holden Caulfield, and that's saying something. It was actually hard for me to imagine an adult writer creating this character - it was as if Hassan were channeling a real kid, with all his quirks, his weaknesses, his outrageousness, and his magic. Because yes, Steven Crashinsky - "Crash" to his friends - possesses an uncanny sort of magic that enables him to connect with others in a totally inexplicable way. It's this "magic" (whatever it really is) that helps him see who David Burnett really is. And seeing who David Burnett really is allows Crash to save hundreds from a horrible death.

CRASH AND BURN is on one level the story of how Crash saves his upstate New York school from classmate Burnett (who earned the nickname "Burn" during an incident when he was eight). When Burn takes hostages and threatens to blow up the entire school, Crash somehow manages to save the day. Which makes Crash an instant hero, with tons of newspaper and magazine stories written about him, and a huge book deal, which means he can buy a BMW (which would be cool for any teenager). But it also means he has to actually write a book about what happened that day at his school . . . which means he also has to figure out what the connection really is between him and Burn. And that's not an easy thing for anyone to do.

But on another level, CRASH AND BURN isn't about the siege at the school at all. It's about kids growing up and experimenting and getting in trouble and trying to figure enough things out to make life livable. And it's about how damned hard it is to look at things honestly without totally falling apart.

Crash is not a particularly admirable character. He's into video games ("Crash Bandicoot" was his childhood favorite), weed, cheap vodka, and sex, not necessarily in that order. He's either stoned or drunk more often than he's not, and it's impossible for him to go five minutes without uttering the kind of language that would make his mother cringe. He hates his father (really, truly hates him, and maybe for good reason), but he's dedicated to his "boys," the group of friends on which he has depended for years. He has no clue about love, and sees most girls as challenges that can be won with a cute smile and a little liquor. He's not the boy most parents would like to see in the company of their daughters. But at the same time, he's a genuinely good guy who cares for his family in ways more profound than he can comprehend - he even admits he'd give his life for his father, in spite of how much he despises him. He forms a complex and real relationship with Burn's damaged sister, Roxanne. And, surprisingly, he is a good friend to Burn, a kid with more baggage than any ten of his friends, even though Crash has been afraid of Burn, in one way or another, since third grade.

Crash also suffers from ADHD, and one of the most amazing things about CRASH AND BURN is Hassan's ability to get the reader to experience just what it's like for a kid who can't think and learn the way the rest of us do. Crash lives in a world in which he's expected to do things that are just impossible for him - and the drugs his parents give him to help just make it worse. There is so much about this character that made me feel I was seeing kids like Crash for the first time, and I was a high school English teacher for many years. This was an eye-opening book for me, if only on that score.

But it's eye-opening in many, many ways. I was profoundly moved by CRASH AND BURN, even devastated by parts of it. And I came to love Crash, with all his destructive behaviors, his stupidity, and his rejection of authority. He is such a real, wonderful, perfectly believable character that I accepted everything about him as true and genuine, flaws and all. He is who he is. And he is a hero in spite of it all . . . or maybe because of it.

I will warn parents that this book is not typical of most YA novels - it is overflowing with profanity, drug and alcohol use, and sexual content. That's probably why it rings so true. Hassan pulls no punches - Crash and his friends are real, twenty-first century kids. The suggested audience for CRASH AND BURN is ages 14+ (or 9th grade and up). It might be a bit edgy for most 9th graders (whose parents balk at their reading I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS). But I can't imagine any teenager not getting instantly pulled into CRASH AND BURN. And for that reason alone I recommend it. But I also recommend it because it's brilliant and honest and absolutely gut-wrenchingly perfect in its portrayal of what it's like to grow up in today's world. Read it for that. Or just read it!
Profile Image for Janie.
145 reviews15 followers
August 19, 2014
Steven Crashinsky saved his school from blowing up at the hands of a super psychotic kid. And he's a complete asshole. Told from his point of view, he is working on writing a book based on his life and what actually happened that fateful day, and the narrative goes back and forth. It's bizarre. And pointless. It's boring. And repetitive, and HE'S SO UNLIKEABLE. Plus, Burn (I forgot his full name), is also TERRIBLE. I mean, sure he's the one who threatened to blow up the place, but SERIOUSLY. I hated him so much. Every time he appeared, I was put on edge. I have no sympathy at all for him despite That may have messed him up, but he’s EVIL. I hated Lindsey; I even hated Jamie. Yep, so completely freaking normal to sit around watching Nickelodeon all day. And his mother was on board with this? What IS Jamie's character? She simply doesn't give a shit about anything other than television? For crying out loud there isn't a single likable character in this book. Steven's dad? The worst father ever to be conceived of in fiction (well, maybe not the worst in terms of actions; he didn’t beat his kids or anything, but seriously) He is such a BASTARD. Felicia (the absolutely perfect perfect woman ever who always says the right things, super nice, "super-hot" etcetera etcetera)? I hated her because she's freaking marrying him. WHY? WHY WHY WHY?
When Crash isn't hooking up with girls he's planning cheat on and/or break up with as soon as the affair is over, he's getting high, complaining how scarily psychotic Burn is (and he IS), or gushing about how amazing Roxanne was . Hell. Even the last line was about freaking I hated Steven so much. All he can talk about is how he’s fantasizing about girls, hooking up with girls while thinking about others, etcetera. The last part of the book when the narrative finally goes into exactly what went down that fateful day was fine. But the 500 pages of sheer idiocy I had to slog through was NOT WORTH IT.
Profile Image for Paul Lunger.
1,020 reviews6 followers
March 22, 2013
Every so often there comes a book that may be the most important book you may not ever read. In 2013, that book could very likely be Michael Hassan's "Crash and Burn". This is the story of Steven "Crash" Crashinsky who becomes a hero when he prevents his friend David Burnett from blowing up their high school on 4/21/08 in Westchester, NY. The story is told as a series of flashbacks from the present with Crash who is writing a book about the events of that day & events in the present which show the events post-4/21. The flashbacks are interesting as we see the evolution of the relationship between Crash & Burn as they eventually become known & the sane & insane sides of each others personalities. There are signs that Burn is capable of what he eventually ends up doing & yet nothing is ever realized. Hassan's story is one of ADHD & medications for it, love & a lot of marijuana smoking across their growing up. We've also got a case of controlling parents, suicides, & lots of loss as well as a lot of adolescent behavior that in this day & age is more common than not.

What makes this book important is the subject matter especially the climactic moment between David & Steven at the school as the big secret that's hinted at in the beginning is revealed & we the reader learn exactly what can cause someone to snap. Hassan's characters are typical teenagers that could be anywhere in the US & the school could be any school in America. The book is a bit long & detailed which may detract some readers & the covers is a bit more than you think at first glance. Also being geared for the high school crowd is appropriate due to the drug use, sex & drinking amongst other things. However, adults as well should pick this up & read it to learn which behaviors to watch for in their kids. This is a book that may in it's own right become a classic as long as we continue to have incidents like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Chardon & Newtown. An important book in an important age & one not to be missed.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,340 reviews227 followers
October 18, 2015
Grade: B+

Steven Crashinski (Crash) , unlikely hero who saved his school from David Burnett's (Burn's) bullets and bombs must finish confronts himself, his father and his past writing an account of the incident.

Narrator Crash is sympathetic yet maddening, arrogant yet lacking esteem, thoughtless and thoughtful, hurting yet hurtful. Verbally abused by his father, I found rooting for Crash to be easy, though sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into him and other times I wanted to teach him how to respect girls. He may even have had more negative traits than positive ones, but I still saw so much potential to be a great young man in him. I'm not sues how much he grew throughout the book, but I'd like to believe his next steps would be wiser.

Readers only see Burn through Crash's eyes, from mentally ill young boy, to adolescent who lost his father in 9/11 to would-be school bomber. I would have loved to read some of the voluminous psych records he must have had.

Debut writer Michael Hassan created near brilliance in his freshman effort. Crash's voice is pitch perfect for a certain type of problematic adolescent boy with lots of problems to create his behavior.

CRASH AND BURN is very long, over 500 pages and at times redundant. I had trouble keeping track of all Crash's friends, classmates and sexual conquests. I love long books, but think this one could have been trimmed by cutting out some of the partying and hookups that didn't really add to my understanding of the plot or character.

THEMES: verbal abuse, violence, friendship, drugs/alcohol, sex, family, parents, siblings

CRASH AND BURN is a tough but important story, filled with teenage (though not all teenagers) profanity, partying and sexploration on steroids, which be reasons to skip this novel that tells us everybody has a story behind how they present themselves.
Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,106 reviews129 followers
November 20, 2012
Richie’s Picks: CRASH AND BURN by Michael Hassan, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, February 2013, 544p., ISBN: 978-0-06-211290-3

“We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures, and the judge walked in with a seeing-eye dog. He sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing-eye dog, and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.
And he began to cry ‘cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures, with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against us.
“And we was fined fifty dollars and had to pick up the garbage in the snow.
“But that’s not what I came to tell you about.
“Came to talk about the draft.”
-- Arlo Guthrie, from “Alice’s Restaurant”

What has long come to mind when I think Thanksgiving – beyond Arlo playing those repeating bars from Alice’s Restaurant – is Denys Cazet’s zany MINNIE AND MOO AND THE THANKSGIVING TREE.

This year, thanks to my fondness for Melissa Sweet’s amazing BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PUPPETEER OF MACY’S PARADE (and thanks to my first east coast Thanksgiving in 25 years), I am seriously considering – for the first time in my life – actually heading into the City and experiencing the Parade live.

But from now on, when I think of Thanksgiving, I am also going to be fondly recalling the unforgettable Thanksgiving in CRASH AND BURN when David Burnett, his mother, and his sister Roxanne come to the Crashinsky home for what turns out to a truly…err…memorable Thanksgiving dinner.

And I am really hoping that when we get to Thanksgiving 2013, there will be a whole bunch of you out there with whom I can share insider jokes and recollections of the events that take place in this grand slam of a YA novel.

“PlayStation had a new game that was, in fact, the best game ever, a game that I would become closely identified with.
“The game in question had come out a few months before and was about a red and brown, two legged dog-thing that kept running and running and running and running, jumping over ditches, spinning around turtles, popping on them, sending them hurling into space, and then running while being chased by humongous boulders and having to jump over pits, while spinning thorough crates and breaking things, never stopping, except to get an oingaboinga and otherwise stop and you’re dead.
“Everything in the game mirrored exactly how I felt every single day of my life, while teachers and others tried so hard to sit me down and keep me still, even though I was spinning; while they were giving me my ADD medicine to try and stop my constant need to move, and to stop me from trying to break free from my chair and the room and the school. Letters on the chalkboard, words in a book, and all I could think of, all I could keep feeling, was get out.”

Meet teenager Steven “Crash” Crashinsky, who has long struggled with ADHD, but who has now become a national hero for having successfully defused his heavily-armed classmate David “Burn” Burnett when the troubled young man took their entire high school hostage.

“He was also proving to be the supergenius that everyone said he was, getting perfect scores on standardized tests and acing his courses, breezing through the work and correcting teachers whenever they said something that he considered to be inaccurate, knowing all these minute details about virtually everything, like he was constantly preparing for a test that only he knew he was taking.”

Meet David “Burn” Burnett, who is bipolar and also suffers from depression and anxiety. And he’s already like this BEFORE his father is dusted in the North Tower on 9/11.

These two young men, Crash and Burn, have a long intertwining personal history and, in this amazing first-person narrative, we get to re-live their decade of interactions, beginning all the way back in second grade and passing through that aforementioned middle school-era disaster of a Thanksgiving dinner.

Told from the perspective of Steven Crashinsky, CRASH AND BURN is a story about story as Crash struggles during the summer after high school to tame his attention deficit in the midst of chaos and focus on writing the book about himself and Burn for which he has been given a lucrative contract. (He’s already partying in the BMW that was part of the deal.)

CRASH AND BURN is an irreverent, profane, and incredibly profound guy read of the first order. I am blown away by the manner in which -- amidst jaw-dropping scenes of wild debauchery, family disintegrations, and (very) private tutoring sessions, which are all pretty darn entertaining – we come to know so intimately the excruciatingly personal struggles of these two young guys who are each grappling with serious conditions relating to brain chemistry -- conditions that are all too common in the twenty-first century and which the medical community still doesn’t have a handle on.

Some might get their panties all twisted in a knot over the language, drug use, casual sex, and other less-than-stellar behavior that we find throughout this book. But, in revealing so honestly the struggles faced by so many young people like Steven and David, I’m telling you that CRASH AND BURN is every bit as important in fostering understanding and acceptance of others as are all of those great books about, for instance, middle-eastern characters or black characters or gay characters that we promote and give awards to with the hopes of getting kids to look beyond their own noses and neighborhoods and understand/accept people who are different.

“’And she said, if you have any trouble with him. Any real trouble, tell him this. Tell him “Roxanne said that you can’t make a fox into a dog no matter how hard you try. A fox is always a fox. And in the end, you have to let them go.”’”

Gosh, it’s going to take me a while to let go of the realization that David Burnett is only a book character and is not really locked up in a facility somewhere. But, then again, these characters are so real, in part, because we all know damned well that they represent plenty of kids in the real world who are dealing with this sort of stuff every day and are one AK-47 away from creating a news event.

Now, getting back to Thanksgiving…

“And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is ‘cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in and say ‘Shrink. You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.’"
--Arlo Guthrie

This Thanksgiving, I want to express how thankful I am for being associated with all of you who play a role in bringing literature to children and teens. Whether you are in a library or a classroom or a bookstore or in those fancy publisher digs or you are an author at a laptop or an artist in a studio, or a parent trying to do right by your kid, I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be part of your world.

Happy Thanksgiving and Give Peace a Chance.

Richie Partington
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_... http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/facult...

Profile Image for Audrey Wilkerson.
438 reviews23 followers
September 2, 2013
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
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,857 reviews31 followers
December 4, 2015
It seems most reviewers either love this one or hate it. I find myself feeling much the same way I felt about Gone Girl: while I don't particularly LIKE any of the characters or their actions, the story is SO DAMN COMPELLING. I admit...I kind of like Crash, our ADHD hero/antihero. Many reviewers loathed him, and while I can see why that is the case (constant pot smoking, vulgar, drunken sexcapades, using girls for sex, etc.)...for me there is just something likable about him, maybe because he's so real and imperfect. His relationship with his mom, stepmom, and younger sister (and eventually Roxanne) are redeeming, as is his struggle with ADHD and the fact that he clearly has some deeper emotions than just being a constantly horny and wasted teenage boy. His dad though... ugh. I haven't hated a character this much since Delores Umbridge (and if you are a Harry Potter fan you know how bad that is). The dynamic between Crash and David (Burn) is so twisted and uncomfortable that I HAD to keep reading, even when I was disgusted. I love these messed-up psychological reads, so this one is a winner for me.
Profile Image for ryan.
204 reviews7 followers
April 10, 2017

(DNF @ 80%)

This book was very different from what I expected. From reviews I've read about this book, people said the characters are great and that you'll most likely get attached to them. I found the characters to be forgettable, I may think about them sometimes in the future, but probably not. The main character was especially the one I had problems with. He didn't think about how his decisions would affect other people which stirred up some drama.

I enjoyed most parts of this book, the writing style was very simple and light. It seemed as if Jesse Andrews & Steven Chbosky collaborated. It also gave me a better understanding of what ADD and ADHD is and how it affects people.
Profile Image for Liam.
43 reviews3 followers
September 2, 2012

Holy shit.

I just finished the galley of this book about ten minutes ago. This is a freight train of a book. This makes all other young adult books look like lightweights. This 530-page monster of a story took me on a ride that books rarely have the balls or spine to provide. Nails the voice, nails the incandescent frustration of being young and a dude in the 2000's, nails it all. I would have waited longer to write this but my phone is almost out of power. I hope this book knocks a hole 530 pages wide through the world when it drops next year. It can. It should
Profile Image for Maya.
23 reviews
January 16, 2015
Reviewing this book is hard. I'm actually not sure how I feel about it at all. The only thing I'm sure of, is that I am deeply and extremely disappointed of the ending. The entire book was supposed to lead to this spectacular climax that kept me going for these difficult 500+ pages, and it was very "meh". I was really looking forward reading it, what a shame.

P.S. If i could kill any person right now it would be Crash. And he's a fictional character.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Spenser Rush.
3 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2013
Fantastic book. It is a very realistic representation of teenage problems and the realistic possibility of losing yourself. This novel sheds light on medical labels and their damaging effects. Being as this is Michael Hassan's first novel, I sincerely hope he writes more.
Profile Image for Aurora Dimitre.
Author 27 books120 followers
July 11, 2019
High four stars. Probably more around 4.5

I did love this. I did love this a helluva lot. I liked how rambling and sometimes semi-coherent the writing style could be, and I liked how voice-heavy it was, and I liked how unapologetically asshole teenage boy it was. It felt honest, and it felt raw, and these are all things, these things that I mentioned loving, are things that other people could have problems with. I can one hundred per cent see where someone would have a trouble with the treatment of female characters in this book, believe me, I noticed it.

But the characterization was consistent, and it is one of the only books I've read that try to do the 'school shooting' thing that actually did it even halfway decently, so.
Profile Image for Abigail.
987 reviews
August 13, 2018
What WAS this!?

I don’t understand how no one has ever mentioned this book to me. Holy shit.

I can’t even really evaluate if it was good or not good, or if I liked it. All I can say is this. This book does something different. There is almost no artifice.

The main character actually for once feels like a real person who is speaking. In this way, he is often an asshole and not fun to read about lol. But he felt authentic.

The whole book felt authentic. And to be honest, the ending blew me away.

It took me a really long to read because each time I’d pick it back up I’d feel like I was taking part in a grim reality. Really really fascinating and well executed.
Profile Image for niksipiksi.
32 reviews16 followers
April 11, 2018
I'm still not exactly sure what this book was about. Partying? Alcohol? Drugs? Mental illness? Family problems? There is just too much of everything and in the end, it doesn't make sense. Not for me.
Profile Image for Lisa.
633 reviews
July 12, 2020
I loved this but sometimes the "girls as sex objects" type of boy teenagehood got old. It was probably a very accurate portrayal but still.
Profile Image for Xian Xian.
286 reviews57 followers
June 9, 2015
This book took me forever to read. Despite that it's a YA novel, which is usually less complicated to read, prose-wise, I had the hardest time trying to finish this novel. It is possibly the longest YA novel I have ever read, other than maybe Eragon, but I'm not even sure if that counts as YA. It took me months to finish this.

It's on a topic that is quite tragic and controversial. There's two, 9/11 and school shootings and bombings. Okay, that's more than one.The title is in reference to the character's surnames. But it's also in reference to the personalities of the narrator and his friend's destructive personalities. They're David Burnett and Crashinsky. I don't even remember Crash's first name, but to keep with the book's title, the characters are usually referred to by their surnames.

There's ADD, drugs, pot, sex, and guns. This books is for my demographic, but it takes place before college starts. I'm not sure when the New Adult genre came around, but this book is totally not YA. The sex scenes are somewhat graphic, graphic enough for a teen to know what's going on, as in uh, finger going into a hole. There's even a porn video scene, since one of the characters was in a porn. So there you go. I was honestly surprised this book was considered YA, which goes to show you how YA is literally just a genre label that depicts age and a few issues surrounding that age, but that's it really. Today, a lot of adult issues and teen issues are almost the same now since teens are doing adult things now. I'm only 20 and I get shocked at what some 13-year-olds do. Don't kill me. I was also somewhat annoyed that my college library has this book and Flowers in the Attic in the "Kids books area." They didn't even put a YA label, it's the "Middle grade to Kids area." That's messed up.

I honestly didn't like this book much. I lost my steam for it after 300 pages. Because like I said before, it's the slowest YA book ever. And I don't mind slow books, but if it's slow and just consists of the narrator partying, getting drunk, and getting laid, then well that can get pretty boring. Even when he talks about the past, it was sort of boring because they consisted of the same thing, except when he started analyzing Burnett and his sister then there's the school crushes and dysfunctional family dynamics. And that's kind of weird to say, that I enjoyed the dysfunction of a novel more than anything else. And that's one of the little themes in this book, people love and celebrate tragedy, people live through tragedy, broken people cause it, but after that they become a hero somehow. Did that make sense? No. But this novel is a tragic fest. There's death everywhere in here, but yet at the same time the odd personalities of the characters in this book seem to make death and mental illness in a way where it's hard to even comprehend why they did it in the first place. The only main character that made sense was Burnett's sister, Burnett and Crash kind of didn't make sense to me. Remember that it took me a long time to finish this book, so I probably forgot some details. But it seems like both characters or basically everyone in this book was sort of pushed down too hard at such a young age. Something about this book is thought provoking, but I can't put into words.

To be quite honest, I don't really understand why Burnett thought that destroying a whole school was going to solve everything. That shooting down and blowing up a whole school was going to absolve his guilt. But I guess that's the same question people ask for other shooters. But the problem with those shooters was that they did what they did because they hated everyone or a certain group of people. Burnett did what he did because he had nobody. And that's why I didn't like this novel much. Because Burnett's reasons didn't make sense to me. Did I miss something?

So what makes this book stand out from most YA novels, despite that I didn't like it much? The voice of the character is pretty nice, you know, lively narration is a plus. The themes are discussed, but not the same way like in most YA, in this one it's a bit more blunt. The main character is neurodivergent, which is rare in the YA world. ADD is still misunderstood. Although, I feel like Burnett, for someone who is mentally ill, comes off as a bit cliche. This trope of "mental illness caused me to blow up people," is destructive. People harm others because they're assholes. And sometimes other reasons. Such as fear and manipulation.
Most of the time, you don't even know.

Rating: 3/5

Originally posted here: http://wordsnotesandfiction.blogspot....
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
April 15, 2013
It’s day three post Crash and Burn and the words still no longer elude me. What aspect of this held me? It certainly wasn’t any of the characters as they were all worlds away from perfect. Crash particular was a douche.. no doubt about it. Hero status notwithstanding, all the cruising and the boozing, the cussing and name dropping with his boys and the girls, the hooking up and the what not… made this almost too dark but with a a lack of depth. There seemed no reason for all of it, save to shock. Oh, look at that, young kids all doped up. Oh, look at that heedless treatment of another! There’s a lack of reason for the way they all behaved save the young being reckless. And reckless they indeed all were. But the worst thing - and most accurate thing - here lay in how Roxanne summed him up: his mediocrity and failing to be more is related to his fall back position. He feels himself go nowhere, lead nowhere because he isn’t as smart as others and couldn’t possibly be as ‘good’ as others… so why bother? It irked me… this thinking, because a lot of it led to detailed description of reckless behavior.

He’s not alone as the lot surrounding him was terrible (some more than others…) from his father, to Burn, to Roxanne… disappointment and heartbreak followed. It’s to his father that I thought reason might follow. That his being a douche was some sick twisted version of tough love; that in fact, there was love somewhere buried deep, deeeepppp down. I was wrong. While Crash himself could act atrociously time and again, in acting thus, I at least knew more of him. I confess to not liking him but at least I knew him and his reasons (no matter how self serving/ a bit lazy feeling I felt they were.) His father though? Why such douche behavior, douche? The man’s actions and words made zero sense to me. Perhaps he’s one of those characters? You know, the one written simply to be hated? If so, it worked. I loathed the ass.

Another thing that had me going was the switch back and forth FROM CRASH’s past of not quite popular boy (but getting there) TO his present version floating on his hero status (aka the douchey dude I wanted to punch). The past reveals him to be less the douche experiencing first loves and one disappointment after another while it’s the present that reveals him to be more often than not as self-serving, this despite heroic acts. In fact it’s the aftermath of the heroic act in question that propels him further into douchedom. But if anything it’s this aspect that allows for some of their reasons to seep through. Reasons for someone’s seemingly selfish act or for another’s self-destructive behavior… it doesn’t all make complete sense… except maybe they do kind of make sense a little. It’s difficult but we see the connections they make with another and how one may be deeply affected the same thing barely touches another. These connections they made to each other AND THEN the things that these connections had them doing, the consequences ranged from heartbreaking, frustrating, disappointing, to terrifying

But it’s BURN’S part in this that has me split. At first, I was feeling things a tad simplistic; that tragedy begetting tragedy became his theme, but the longer things are considered, the clearer it is that there’s truth in it, no? That one sad thing then another sad thing, then another… then what follows at his hand makes sense, in a tragic sort of way. Maybe it’s a bit simple to say that one sad thing (more than one sad things) leads to the same… but maybe that just isn’t the case. The point I’m trying to get at is... he isn’t just the broken guy doing this terrible thing, but he is just as much a victim as the rest.

DARK then darker with each page so that it’s the ending that leaves me slightly disappointed. It felt almost to HEA considering everything else in it.

Profile Image for Lynn.
3,220 reviews60 followers
March 9, 2014
A talky, frenetic young adult novel about a boy with ADHD and LD nicknamed Crash and a mentally unstable boy who bullies him beginning in late middle school nicknamed Burn. Both come from high income families in Westbury, CT where kids are expected to attend Princeton for college and maintain impeccable high school records. The story begins with Burn talking Crash to go into the basement of the school they are attending for middle school and Burn setting fire to the janitor's office. They both get blamed for the fire and Burn insists that they planned it together. Crash ends up with increased psychological counseling and medication that he doesn't need. Burn seems to successful in manipulating the system. As high school years progress, Crash who was threatened by Burn, struggles with reduced expectations in his life and the exposures of teenage life such as weed, alcohol and sex. His learning disability is dealt with a 504 plan and a "special class". The prescription medications cause him sleeplessness, anxiety and lack of appetite. Burn appears to get a pass most of the time until one day he decides to exercise a long time plan to kill people at his school and Crash is the only person who is aware of his dangerousness to stop him, if he can. The problem with the book is the story plot is much more interesting than the writing. The writing has so much filler I could have skipped a hundred pages and gotten the point. I do admire the writer's understanding of how ADHD is treated and the medication side effects of the drugs but I never believed the adults who aren't alert to who Crash really is and that someone in the school or his family wouldn't believe him. That plot point ruined the story from the beginning and it was necessary to be believable. I also don't think that the writer knew special education except from an outsiders perspective. I suspected that the writer went through an ADHD diagnosis and treatment but wasn't privy to the laws surrounding it. 504 plans don't have classes because 504 unlike IDEA doesn't have money attached to it so an IEP would be needed for special classes beyond testing accommodations and schools often want to increase services for students going into high school not because the student's needs increase as much as the schools get punished if the student doesn't graduate or do well. More services don't equal success and often students get shuffled out of the classrooms and into other schools for negative reasons so the school doesn't get punished by the state government. Anyway, the book was more exciting to think of reading rather than reading the book itself.
Profile Image for Whitney Sorensen.
497 reviews14 followers
March 27, 2013
I stayed up kind of late to finish this book, because I had to finish it fast. It was heavy. Obviously, I mean it deals with an almost school shooting incident, as well as a lot of other issues that, as a kid in today's world you would encounter. I was impressed with the narrative style--brilliant writing, perfectly capturing the ADHD nature of Crash and his world. I appreciated how the writing totally opened a window on kids dealing with ADD/ADHD--and not that I have it myself, but I've worked with kids that do--and I feel he portrayed it pretty accurately, and because of that it's revelatory and eye-opening. Everything from the paranoia, anxiety, difficulty learning or focusing to the need to move physically is spot on. Also, switching back and forth between present and past was also a narrative move that worked well.

I skipped some parts, because the content was a little much for me. I liked the parts where he talks about things other than than just smoking and drinking and getting with girls--those other parts (mostly with Burn) were more formative and definitive for his character and the story, I think. Really, if some of those partying scenes were cut out, I think the book would be shorter and better. It was definitely on the long side--but I feel like some of that length was needed in order to build up the characters and the story so you would understand, and really feel, the moment in the school between Burn and Crash that everything leads up to. I just think a few less (filler) scenes of him smoking/drinking/getting with girls would have been nice and wouldn't have taken away from the story.

And wow, this book is intense. Not just because of the culminating moment, but really a lot of other moments that lead up to it, and that make your heart hurt for some of these characters. Certain scenes are just wonderfully plotted and achingly intense. The male point of view is also perfectly done--I haven't seen a book from the boy's POV done so well in a long time. So I go back and forth--it's such a long book with some content that I would have a hard time recommending to some audiences, but on the other hand, it's a perfect picture of today's teenage boy. The issues it addresses (mental health, 9/11, school shootings, education, etc) are so incredibly present. It's got a lot of appeal because of the narrator, and I really enjoyed getting into those issues with Crash. Plus, it's got some pretty great nineties nostalgia going on. So really, I don't think this is a book to be missed--for the YA audience or for adults.

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584 reviews3 followers
May 14, 2013
3 or 4 stars? not sure which to go with. I suppose I could go 3.5. How do I explain my feelings about this book? I ordered the book with reservations. I had read the reviews, and the mixed emotions expressed by so many people had me a little worried. Especially since I was ordering the book for the school library. But I took my chances and ordered it. And as soon as it was put out on the shelf a student took it out. This particular student is an avid reader, but a student who enjoys reading books that are less than main stream. So when she brought it back and raved about it, I had to read it if only so I could talk it up to other readers like her.

I have to say, it was very realistic. Maybe a little too realistic. The amount of teenage antics and activities was a bit overwhelming. I really enjoyed the flashback chapters. You were able to really understand and get to know the characters and their backgrounds. The chapters that covered current time were a bit too blatant for my taste, but I know the perfect students to hand this book off to. And they will eat it up!

The struggles and the relationships that are portrayed within the story are actually very intriguing. They draw you in and make you want to learn more about the charaters. You feel for them even has they are causing trouble getting into trouble. You want them to be okay and you want them to learn from their very varied and often made mistakes.

So I am mixed as to what my rating should be. I guess maybe I should go four for the content and the depth of content and character development, but the adult in me wants to give it a 3. So I guess I need to put my "adult" biases aside and give it the 4 that actually work earned.
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