Review: Firecracker by David Iserson


FirecrackerTitle: Firecracker

Author: David Iserson

Genre: Comedy, YA Contemporary

Publication Date: May 16, 2013

Source: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Summary: 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!

☆: DNF – Tragicomedy? I don’t get it. This book is just tragically bad.

There are three things I associate with this book: funny, stupid, and stupid-funny. Stupid-funny and funny are what the book was trying to be. Stupid is what it actually turned out to be. Had Astrid been more thoroughly developed and concentrated more on finding out how her friend got her kicked out of private school, maybe this would have been a fun read, but as it is, it’s bad. It’s bad on a level I’m not used to seeing. This sounded like fun and I genuinely expected it to make me laugh, but I cringed more often than anything else.

Astrid is a terrible person unapologetic about anything she has done–and she has done some pretty terrible things. This includes closing a piano lid on her cousin’s nose, planning to make an nuisance of herself at her older sister’s wedding, robbing multiple convenience stores, wiping smushed Twinkies into a girl’s head, and shattering someone’s vase. Oh, and calling a guy from the Czech Republic Pierre when his name is Lukas. Why does she do any of this? FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

When she first started detailing her exploits, I thought it would lead to a realization that she’s a terrible person or reveal a twisted psyche developed by years of living in a family where her grandfather is the only one who shows her any real attention. However, as the novel wore on, the realization dawned on me that these instances were supposed to be funny and quirky. Astrid’s character and reasons, for as far as I read, are never developed beyond “quirky girl who does awful stuff just because” and her quirks existed solely to make her quirky.

Um, no. Give me a developed character, not someone who does awful things for no reason. I can be just as odd as Astrid in her more bearable moments (after all, the word “penis” came up at least a hundred times when hanging out with my friends once and I was the one who brought it up half the time; at one point, I said I had a few people’s penises in a jewelry box because they wronged me), but I’m messing around where Astrid is serious.

Beyond Astrid’s abhorrent character, the writing isn’t too great either. Astrid makes a point of telling us multiple times that she has a gift to see how people are valuable in ways others don’t notice and how the friend who betrayed her was the one person she considered almost a friend. It comes up so often and is beaten into our head so thoroughly that it gets irritating after a while. Add this to all the details of horrible things Astrid has done and your patience may start to deteriorate.

What broke my back? The suicide joke-thing. The exotification of Lukas, a person Astrid calls Pierre because it’s apparently hard to remember his real name and she’s good as long as she calls him a European name, is bad enough. Then Lukas threatens to hang himself is Astrid doesn’t pay attention to him. She says he has done this multiple times and it’s treated like nothing at all because he’s acting and Astrid knows it. That she’s so blase about it and that Lukas keeps doing this? No. Too much for me to deal with.

As I continued reading, I became more and more uncomfortable for reasons that were related to both the book and its author. After about 200 pages out of 336, I decided to stop reading and move on. I knew where it was going by that point and it was nowhere good. Let’s just say the suicide thing with Lukas was the straw that broke my back.

2 thoughts on “Review: Firecracker by David Iserson

  1. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 45 | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: The Trouble with Firecrackers | birth of a new witch.

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