Book Review: Flash Burnout By L.K. Madigan
August 30, 2011
Readers looking for a humorous and true-to-life coming-of-age story will find it in L. K. Madigan’s debut novel Flash Burnout. Madigan tells the story of Blake, a high school sophomore who finds himself suddenly immersed in drama as he struggles to juggle the two women in his life: his girlfriend Shannon whom he loves and his best friend and fellow photographer Marissa who needs him.
One of the best aspects of Madigan’s book is the humor. Blake’s goal in life is to become a stand-up comedian, and his mind walks right along that path. The best moments of humor are when Blake finds himself in trouble and turns to Houston, his brain, for help, especially when he finds himself in trouble with Shannon. In one scene, Shannon is angry with Blake because he forgot to call her the night before. This is Blake’s thought process as he attempts to maneuver his way through the ensuing argument: "Houston, a little help here? I think. Crashing and burning is imminent. Over? The Houston in my head yells, Abort, abort!"
My favorite aspect of Madigan’s book is how real the characters are. Too often books supposedly dealing with real-life situations take a turn into "fantasy", producing characters that always act perfect instead of real. In this book, the language, the thought processes, and the actions of the characters are what one could expect to see all around them in reality. Blake isn’t the perfect boyfriend that every girl dreams of having. He makes mistakes, some very huge with very huge consequences. But in the end, the reader still feels for him because they know he is good at his core. The same can be said for most of the characters. There are many layers to them.
Because of the content of the story, the age of the characters, and the coming-of-age nature of the book, the prime audience for this book is teenagers. They are the ones who will get the most from this book. Both entertaining and thought provoking, Flash Burnout gently guides the reader into considering right and wrong and weighing the importance of conflicting issues, all the way up to its ending that requires some consideration from the reader. On one hand, it’s disappointing because most readers, even ones who like "real" books, like a happy ending, which is not delivered by this book. In fact, Madigan’s book barely delivers closure. However, this ending is a true ending, the ending the main character would most likely be confronted with in reality, and in that aspect, the ending of this book stays true to the book as a whole.
Flash Burnout is a well-written, easy to read, and enjoyable book that I recommend for any young adult, male or female, who likes a little spice of reality in their books.