Author: Michael Hassan
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Page #: 532
Goodreads, Author's Twitter
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.Crash and Burn starts right from the beginning and carries you through Steven's/ Crash's life all the way up to the end, combining to become a sort of autobiography-slash- journal. Reader's are given a chapter of life as it is for Crash, showing his day-to-day activities as he moves through life as a normal teenager after his not-so-average heroic break. This contrasts with pages of his book-within-a-book that's he's writing, his tell-all. And wow, does it pay off in the end.
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.
You don't go into Crash and Burn thinking that it's going to be funny, witty, insightful, telling, truthful, or anything other than bone-crushingly sad. Because that's what books about almost-school-shootings and hostage students is supposed to be, right? Thankfully, for our sake, Hassan has given us something very, very different.
Crash and Burn is bone-crushingly sad, at times. And it's hilarious and sarcastic, at times. It has its mundane and boring parts too. It all works out though, with Crash being one of the most realistic, insightful, interesting characters to come out of young adult fiction for a long time.
It's book like Crash and Burn that pull me back into young adult fiction in a world that trying to hawk "new adult" or sometimes just "adult" books to me. It challenges the idea that we aren't ready for things that are thrown our way, that even though there are people out there who look at us and figure that we're ready for this or not ready for that. It takes every single one of its 532 pages and introduces us to a character who's funny, depressed, sarcastic, loving, unloving, confused, high, drunk, and one of the closest fictional characters I've ever seen to a real, living person.
It was amazing.