Now, I’m not a teenaged boy, and I never will be. So my assessment of what a “valid” or “true-to-life” male teenager’s voice sounds like might not be one hundred percent accurate. But Blake’s voice in Flash Burnout is convincing enough for me.
The whole sarcastic/funny teenager can be overdone in YA literature. And writing from an adolescent male’s voice is undoubtedly tricky (click here to read the simultaneously scathing and encouraging gauntlet author Hannah Moskowitz throws down on writing books geared toward YA males). Blake’s voice is humorous and poignant, and not in the way that sounds like the author is breathing “look how funny I am” from the white space between the words.
I enjoyed this book. The humor worked, the male point-of-view worked, and without Blake appealing to me-as-a-woman because he was so unbelievably romantic and tragic and sparkly, but instead because he sounds like a real guy experiencing real problems. There wasn’t anything sparkly about the romance here…I don’t even think I want to call it romance, at least not in the traditional way everyone might think of it in literature.
Another interesting point in Flash Burnout: the parents are both present, and they are awesome. A few months ago Julie Just wrote an essay for the New York Times Sunday Book Review, discussing what’s going on with all the absentee/horrible parents in young adult literature. Madigan gives us something refreshing in Flash Burnout: I fell in love with both of Blake’s quirky, fun, and ultimately there and loving mom and dad. In fact, Blake’s family serves as a foil for the families of the two love interests, making the family excellence a double-whammy.
But really, the humor is what did it for me. I love funny books. This was effective, and still had a meaningful story. I’m very sorry to say it, but Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books are a bit lacking in the poignant, life-changing drama department (click here to read my review of those lovely tomes). Georgia is hilariously funny, but a well-curved character arc is not something she can boast about.
Blake, in Flash Burnout, isn’t a heart-throb. He’s a normal guy, and a funny one at that. His story is worth your time.
To read more about L. K. Madigan and her fiction, you can visit her website by clicking here.