Aaron's Reviews > Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
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's review
Jan 20, 2010

really liked it

This one is really well-named since I felt totally burned out from the subplots by the time I was done. Blake is 15 years old and in his sophomore year in high school. Most people find him to be quite humorous, and he is quite happy with his developing relationship with his girlfriend Shannon. It is probably not surprising to most readers that between his age and his relationship status that he is considering taking things to the next level with Shannon, but he is willing to wait even as he seems to focus on certain parts of girls' anatomy.

Blake also finds a strong friend in Marissa, a girl in his photography class. They have a shared interest in the art, and their teacher has called them Gritty (Blake) and Pretty (Marissa) because of the focus each takes when selecting subjects for their photography projects. Their shared interests draw Blake and Marissa to spend more and more time together. No one wants to believe they are "just friends." Shannon in particular is concerned about the time Blake is spending with Marissa.

One day Blake takes a picture of a meth addict/streetperson and submits it for an assignment. It turns out to be Marissa's mother. As he learns more and more about her home life, he becomes a confidante and source of support as she deals with the the troubles. As things come to a head, the two of them make a decision that will change the relationships of everyone.

Blake's family is a great contrast to Marissa's. His parents and brother form a tight unit. Blake and his brother Garrett are typical brothers who bicker, but are really there for each other. His father is a medical examiner who is more than willing to share information about his cases, grossing everyone out and leading to laughter. His mom is a minister who works in the pediatric unit at the local hospital. Blake's parents do everything they can to mold their sons properly.

Blake is an interesting and complex character. He is drawn in many directions because of his interest in photography, his feelings for Shannon, his lust, his friendship with Marissa, and the need to do good. This mixture allows him to come across as a realistic teenage boy even though some of his thoughts and lines don't quite live up to capturing the spirit of being a 15-year old boy.

The one weakness I could sense is that his seems to have multiple personalities. Sometimes, he throws out lines that are crass just to "sound" more like a guy. The voice just seems inconsistent because of the major contrast when he seems very mature or adult-like, when he seems almost like a girl, and when his seems like a crass teenage guy.

This book won the William C. Norris Award for best book from a first-time young adult author this week.

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