Firecracker by David Iserson

firecrackercover Title: Firecracker
Author: David Iserson (websitetwitter)
Pub. Date: May 16, 2013
Source: Library
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?
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Rating: star-half-64

Astrid Krieger has everything: her family is wealthy & powerful beyond belief, she goes to an elite private academy, and she gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Unfortunately, her perfect life comes screeching to a halt the day she’s expelled. Getting into trouble is nothing new for her – more than once she’s spent the afternoon in jail – but this time her family decides they’ve had it.

It’s time Astrid goes to a public school.

Naturally Astrid doesn’t think this is a good idea at. all. and isn’t shy about voicing her opinions on the matter. She’s convinced she was set up, that someone intentionally had her kicked out of Bristol Academy and being stuck in a public school isn’t how she planned on seeking her revenge. Now, instead of spending her time surrounded by stinking rich kids, Astrid sits next to Lucy, a constant hair-eater, Noah, a boy who isn’t like the others, and Pierre who has been in love with her forever and transferred schools to be with her.

Going into Firecracker, I tried not to make assumptions. David Iserson, a writer for television’s New Girl and Saturday Night Live, decided to try his hand at a Young Adult novel. So far, so good. Lots of actors/performers have been seeking to branch out a la Lauren Graham (Someday, Someday, Maybe). Unfortunately, it came to my attention that Mr. Iserson earned a spot on the Authors Behaving Badly list after a flurry of tweets came out attacking a reviewer for her honest review.

That said, I decided to give Firecracker the benefit of the doubt and see what it was all about. Right from the start however, it’s clear Astrid is a brat – and that’s putting it very lightly. She thinks she’s God’s gift to mankind and deserves to have everything handed to her. I’m sure we’ve all read books in the past that feature characters like her, only by the time those books end, said characters have a huge revelation and see the error of their ways. Not so with Astrid. Sure, she might have allowed herself to make a friend and save her sister’s wedding, but the way she goes about doing these are so out-of-line. She thinks nothing of crashing someone’s car, slamming a piano lid onto her cousin’s nose, smashing a Twinkie into a girl’s hair. I could go on and on, and sadly, not once does Astrid stop to think that maybe she’s in the wrong. Instead she’s fully convinced her actions are justified.

For a main character, Astrid’s utter lack of character growth was disappointing. She’s the same person she was in the beginning of the book with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

The supporting characters were all FAR more interesting. Lucy is a nerdy, unpopular girl who always has her hair in her mouth. She was one of the only nice people to Astrid and truly seemed to want to be her friend. Noah is another new transfer to the school and his absolute lack of interest sets him apart from the others. He was the character I found the most intriguing and once his story was revealed, I liked him even more. I would have loved for more chapters to have been devoted to his character. Pierre – his real name is Lukas but Astrid refuses to remember it – is from the Czech Republic and originally attended Bristol Academy with Astrid. He was hopelessly in love with her back then, writing poetry and singing songs every chance he got, and when she transferred he followed. I never quite understood why he loved her so much; she was absolutely horrible to him, yet he was completely entranced.

As for the plot, it just sort of moseyed along until reaching the end. I honestly wasn’t expecting the betrayer to be who it was and I thought Astrid’s last act of revenge a bit overkill. In the end, however, Firecracker was entertaining but I can see where readers from both sides of the fence are coming from. If you’re looking for a quirky contemporary with redeemable and relatable characters, you should probably look elsewhere. That said, if you’re looking for a quick and amusing afternoon read, Firecracker might just be the book you’re looking for.

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