Reviews for Crash and Burn


Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* Sprawling, messy, vulgar, sexy, irreverent, violent, bighearted, harrowing. These are just a few of the many adjectives about to be hurled in the direction of this roaring freight train of a debut. In telling the tale of a tumultuous decade-long antagonism between two boys destined to fulfill their ying/yang fate, Hassan constructs three of the most vividly alive characters in recent YA fiction: Steven "Crash" Crashinsky, the oversexed, good-natured, dope-smoking C student; David "Burn" Burnett, the bipolar, tragedy-plagued genius given to openly weeping and obsessed with revenge; and Burn's older sister, Roxanne, a world-weary goth whose headlong fight against her demons has both boys enthralled. Hassan begins at the end: Crash is a media darling for saving his entire high school from Burn's siege of guns and explosives. National attention scores Crash a book deal, and between horny interludes, he begins to work. Both of them, he writes, have been connected since grade school when Burn tried to blow up the building, promising Crash upon his failure, "One day, I am going to kill you." A travelogue of the subsequent 10 years of parties, drugs, sex, and secrets may sound exhausting, but Hassan writes with such fire and drills down so deep that it's difficult to believe these characters are fictional--this would read quickly even at twice the length. Gutsily conceived, written, and edited, this is, quite simply, a great American novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hassan may be an unknown right now, but this looks ready to gather strong critical support and award notice. Be prepared: demand could light up quick. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
In this debut novel, the text alternates between Steven Crashinsky's life after preventing classmate David Burnett from blowing up their high school and flashbacks of his long history with Burn. The book is needlessly long and there's a lack of substantive thematic development, but Hassan breathes life into the complex characters and situations, and Crash's disarmingly honest voice has a certain appeal.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
Two teens' long-standing conflict culminates in an aborted school shooting in this bloated debut. ADD pothead Steven Crashinsky and evil genius David Burnett have been best frenemies since Burn almost blew up their elementary school--with Crash in it. Circling each other uneasily throughout their school careers, they always come back together when tragedy strikes, as when Crash's parents divorce or Burn's mother dies. Both believe that they are somehow connected by fate or magic, and both are fixated on Burn's doomed sister, Roxanne, who is the dubious object of Crash's affection. Hassan sacrifices storytelling for voice, which might work if this overwritten novel were half as long. It feels as though the author has thrown everything at this plot but the kitchen sink. There is a sadistic teacher, a sadistic father, multiple suicide attempts, Thanksgiving Day family meltdowns, deaths from cancer, 9/11 and overdoses, copious pot smoking, a gun pulled in a parking lot and a teen sex video. The effect is numbing, especially when related in Crash's obvious, dense, blow-by-blow first person. Most readers will have zoned out by the time the author finally gets around to the novel's nonclimactic climax. No fire here, just fizzle. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 March #4

In Hassan's gritty but ponderous first novel, ADHD sufferer Steven "Crash" Crashinsky has become a local hero, having stopped his sometimes friend David from shooting up their high school. Steven has been offered a major book deal, sans ghostwriter and with a two-month deadline, and as the apathetic student and pothead attempts to write, he reflects on his history with David over the years, as well as drugs, booze, learning disabilities, school, family, and his constant quest for sex (which often includes getting girls drunk). Over the course of 12 years, readers see abusive parents and teachers, school pranks, divorce, death, 9/11, a suicide attempt, and more. Hassan effectively conveys the numbing influence of drugs and alcohol on Steven's life and the messy social relationships of young adulthood, with a tone that blends ennui with an undercurrent of aggression. However, the most compelling and painful aspect of the novel--Steven's complex and sometimes sinister connection with David--isn't satisfactorily explored. That Steven's eventual redemption comes at the hands of another tragedy may strike readers as anticlimactic rather than profound. Ages 14-up. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.)

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

In Hassan's gritty but ponderous first novel, ADHD sufferer Steven "Crash" Crashinsky has become a local hero, having stopped his sometimes friend David from shooting up their high school. Steven has been offered a major book deal, sans ghostwriter and with a two-month deadline, and as the apathetic student and pothead attempts to write, he reflects on his history with David over the years, as well as drugs, booze, learning disabilities, school, family, and his constant quest for sex (which often includes getting girls drunk). Over the course of 12 years, readers see abusive parents and teachers, school pranks, divorce, death, 9/11, a suicide attempt, and more. Hassan effectively conveys the numbing influence of drugs and alcohol on Steven's life and the messy social relationships of young adulthood, with a tone that blends ennui with an undercurrent of aggression. However, the most compelling and painful aspect of the novel--Steven's complex and sometimes sinister connection with David--isn't satisfactorily explored. That Steven's eventual redemption comes at the hands of another tragedy may strike readers as anticlimactic rather than profound. Ages 14-up. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 9 Up--Steven "Crash" Crashinsky becomes a hero when he saves more than a thousand people at his high school by confronting his armed and dangerous classmate, David "Burn" Burnett, during a chilling hostage situation. Crash signs a book deal to write about events leading up to the crisis, his understanding of Burn, and the final secret Burn shared with him that horrible day. In chapters that alternate between the past and the present, Crash details a sporadic and at times competitive, supportive, and antagonistic friendship. Crash's energetic but often rambling narrative delves into his ADHD; learning and behavior issues; dislike for his unsympathetic father; affinity for alcohol, drug, and sexual excesses; self-image illusions; and aspirations to become a better person. Crash describes Burn's intelligence and uncanny perceptions, which mask a troubled teenager haunted by staggering personal tragedies. During Burn's occasional absences for mental-health treatment, Crash becomes romantically involved with his sister, who tutors him and offers insight into her brother's erratic behavior. Crash's empathy for Burn enables them to connect on that fateful day. The protagonist is a restless antihero whose maturation and self-realization occur in (often amusing) spurts of self-awareness. Although insecurity, improprieties, profanity, and hedonistic behavior abound in this overlong account, Crash's spontaneity is engaging and entertaining.--Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

[Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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