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Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Firecracker by David Iserson

by David Iserson
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon
Being Astrid Krieger is absolutely all it's cracked up to be.She lives in a rocket ship in the backyard of her parents' estate.She was kicked out of the elite Bristol Academy and she's intent on her own special kind of revenge to whomever betrayed her.She only loves her grandfather, an incredibly rich politician who makes his money building nuclear warheads.It's all good until..."We think you should go to the public school," Dad said.This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words "public school" out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells).Will Astrid finally meet her match in the form of public school? Will she find out who betrayed her and got her expelled from Bristol? Is Noah, the sweet and awkward boy she just met, hiding something?Find out in this hilarious tragicomedy from New Girl and SNL writer David Iserson!

I received an eARC copy of this book from the pub via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I had such high hopes for David Iserson's Firecracker. I mean, when you hear that a writer from New Girl writes a YA Contemporary, you expect a smart, laugh-a-minute-read...well, what I got was a frustrating, disappointing, only sometimes funny, read.

Astrid Krieger loves her life. And why shouldn't she? Her family has, richer than God kind of money...and she has great self-confidence. In fact, Astrid thinks she's pretty darn fantastic. A self-described loner, Astrid doesn't have “friends”, she has useful allies. The only person she truly loves is her powerful politician grandfather. But when she is kicked out of her fancy boarding school for cheating (and she is sure one of her “allies” set her up), she is sent to public school. At public school Astrid finds herself, for the first time, publicly hated and mocked by her peers. But with the help of awkward Lucy and cute Noah, Astrid concocts a genius plan for revenge against the person who set her up.

I'm not sure where to begin with this review. From the other review tidbits I've seen on Goodreads, it seems I'm in the minority in not loving Firecracker, which I can totally get. I can see why others really enjoyed this book. I, myself, didn't hate everything about it, just the important stuff. For coherency and to avoid long ranting, I think I'll just break up this review into what I liked and didn't like.

What I actually liked...

Humor...while not the insanely funny read I had hoped for, Firecracker does have its smart, genuinely witty moments. Yes, some of the humor is crude, silly-stupid, or even offensive, and at times I almost felt bad for finding something funny, but Iserson does prove that he has comedy writing talent.

Supporting Characters...several of the supporting characters, particularly Lucy, Noah, and Lisbeth, are actually likable and have real depth and development. Hey Iserson, if you wanted to offer readers characters that they could relate to, then you should of focused on Lucy and Noah...just sayin' *shrugs*

What I didn't like and even hated...

Plot...or the lack of a plot. The plot kind of meanders and wanders, with no concrete direction. Towards the end, the plot gets super messy and over-the-top ridiculous.

Conflicting times, it seems as if Iserson is being satirical in the way he describes Astrid's life and her rich peers. I mean the Krieger family gets its money from nuclear war-heads, Astrid lives in a friggin rocket-ship in her backyard, and her fancy boarding school is described in a mocking manner...this kind of tongue-in-cheek humor I can get behind. But then, at times it feels as if I, and all the other readers who are not part of the 1%, are being laughed out and talked down to, mostly because of the way Astrid views the non-rich masses.

Which brings us to my biggest issue with this book...

Astrid Krieger...I hate this character. I don't use that word often when describing book characters, but there's just no other way for me to put it. I loathe Astrid Krieger. She's spoiled, mean, rude, immature, selfish, annoying, and arrogant. She has an unbelievable sense of entitlement and a ridiculously over-inflated ego. She treats people like utter crap and has no respect for anyone. I think her “quirks” and “honesty” (like knocking a vase off her headmaster's desk because she can, telling the headmaster his head is shaped like a penis, talking down to her parents, mocking her admirer's threats of suicide, her wry, sassy observations, etc) are meant to be charming and amusing, but they aren't. I'm not a violent person, but if someone talked to me and treated me the way Astrid treats 99% of people, I would bitch slap them...HARD.

I found nothing redeemable or likable or relatable about this girl. At one point she claims that she isn't a bully, she merely bullies other bullies, which makes her a hero...umm, no. Just no. The author could have taken Astrid and given her such profound character development and depth, but he didn't. Astrid doesn't grow, she doesn't learn anything, she doesn't become a better person, and she doesn't care...Astrid. Fucking. Krieger 
*gives Astrid my best “Hermione Granger Is Not Amused” glare*

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I think there are plenty of readers who have and will enjoy Firecracker...I am not one of them. The sometimes amusing humor and not horrible supporting characters earn this book an extra half cupcake from me, but for the most part, this book is a fail. If you want to spend a few mind-numbing hours with spoiled, privileged white kids, go watch The O.C. least you can fast-forward through the whiny Marissa Cooper parts.


David Iserson
David Iserson works as a film and television writer and currently writes for Fox's New Girl. He has also written for Saturday Night Live, NBC's Up All Night, and Showtime's United States of Tara and has several screenplays in development. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and her terrifying collection of taxidermy. Firecracker is his first novel.

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