Two teens' long-standing conflict culminates in an aborted school shooting in this bloated debut.
ADD pothead Steven Crashinsky and evil genius David Burnett have been best frenemies since Burn almost blew up their elementary school—with Crash in it. Circling each other uneasily throughout their school careers, they always come back together when tragedy strikes, as when Crash's parents divorce or Burn's mother dies. Both believe that they are somehow connected by fate or magic, and both are fixated on Burn's doomed sister, Roxanne, who is the dubious object of Crash’s affection. Hassan sacrifices storytelling for voice, which might work if this overwritten novel were half as long. It feels as though the author has thrown everything at this plot but the kitchen sink. There is a sadistic teacher, a sadistic father, multiple suicide attempts, Thanksgiving Day family meltdowns, deaths from cancer, 9/11 and overdoses, copious pot smoking, a gun pulled in a parking lot and a teen sex video. The effect is numbing, especially when related in Crash’s obvious, dense, blow-by-blow first person. Most readers will have zoned out by the time the author finally gets around to the novel's nonclimactic climax.
No fire here, just fizzle. (Fiction. 14 & up)