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review: “flash burnout” April 19, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan.
Houghton Mifflin // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Blake was just doing his photography homework. He didn’t expect to find anything other than a cool subject for a photo shoot. But when he finds Marissa’s drug-addict mother, his — and her — world change. Now, he’s torn between helping Marissa and his girlfriend, Shannon. (Not to mention his conflicting feelings about both girls, his family, and the world around him.) Will he be able to put what’s really important first?

I was pleasantly surprised by “Flash Burnout.” I thought the voice was pretty authentic, and that Blake sounded a lot like some of my teen boys at the library. But what really impressed me about this debut was the heart of the story. Blake’s seemingly light tone and joke cracking had me thinking that the book would be a quick, light-hearted story. I was wrong — this book has real depth to it.

My favorite part of the story had to be Blake and his home life. I thought his mother, father, and brother were among the best, most well-developed families I have ever encountered in YA literature. And I think that the family was presented as a very relatable family — I think teens will find a lot of things in common with all of the characters.

There were some minor problems with teenage slang. (And yes, it drew me out of the story even though I’m surrounded by teenagers five days a week.) And this is a novel for older teens by far. But overall, I thought this was a very strong debut novel. While it wasn’t my favorite of the Morris Award nominees (a YALSA award for best debut author basically), I thought that it definitely deserved the win. It’s already in my library and I would absolutely recommend it for public libraries.

SWAN catalog
L.K. Madigan