One day, fifteen-year-old Blake takes a photo of a woman passed out on the street for his photography class. The woman is clearly addicted to meth. To Blake’s surprise, the woman is the mother of his classmate, Marissa and has been gone for almost a year. This photo leads Blake and Marissa in a whirl of drama. For Marissa, it’s how to bring her mother home. For Blake, it’s how to help Marissa. Shannon, Blake’s girlfriend, is unhappy with the amount of time Blake spends with Marissa. Blake repeatedly tells her and everyone else that Marissa is just a friend, but is she?
Flash Burnout is an excellent debut novel. From the beginning, Madigan enthralled me by the story. The novel is told in first person narrative, which works perfectly. This narrative helps readers get a sense of Blake’s humor, who is an aspiring comedian. However, the comedy is certainly not just limited to Blake. Some of the funniest scenes in the novel occured because of Blake’s father. My favorite was probably the birth control talk. The cast of characters was great. Each character brought something different and needed to the story. Other than Blake and his father, I particularly liked Garrett, Blake’s brother, and Marissa. The photo of Marissa’s mom is not the only way Madigan included photography, and the other ways seemed just as natural as the photo. Each chapter also starts out with something about photography. These chapter starters were interesting tidbits. One of my favorites was the beginning of Chapter 16: “Camera: Latin for room.”
The only thing I disliked about Flash Burnout was something that happened at the end. It seemed to backtrack on something that I thought was earlier resolved. Obviously, I was wrong. I feel that other readers will be bothered by this more than I was. Still, Flash Burnout is a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by L.K. Madigan.
If you are looking for a coming-to-age novel, then I suggest this.