Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Burnout - Review

Title: Burnout
Author: Adrienne Maria Vrettos
Tags: young adult, suspense, substance abuse, family, friendship, rehab, New York, amnesia, life choices
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN-10: 1416994696
ISBN-13: 9781416994695
Website: http://www.adriennemariavrettos.com/books

Read an excerpt: Chapter 1

Publisher's Description:
On the day after Halloween, Nan wakes up in a subway car. She is not dreaming. She doesn’t know where she’s been or what she’s done. She’s missing a whole day from her life. And she’s wearing skeleton makeup and a too-small Halloween costume that she doesn't remember putting on.

Nan is not supposed to wake up in places like this anymore. She’s different now, so far from that dangerously drunk girl who hit bottom in the Nanapocalypse. She needs to find out what happened to her, and fast. As she tries to put together the pieces of the last twenty-four hours, she flashes back to memories of her previous life. But she would never go back to her old friends and her old ways. Would she?

The deeper Nan digs, the more disturbing things get. This time, she may have gone one step too far. This time, she may be a walking ghost.

This book would probably be PG-13 by film industry standards. Possibly PG. Despite the subject matter (teenage substance abuse), there's almost nothing in this book to be concerned about. Basically a few curse words, the aforementioned underage drinking, and some allusions to sex (no actual sex scenes in the book).  

I won my copy of this book through a website started by another YA author, Jessica Brody. The website is Free Book Friday and every Friday they give away one book in each of four categories: Fiction, Romance, Teen, and Indie. The first week I entered, I won the book for the teen category. Let's just say that Friday was definitely my lucky day as I was able to snag a copy of Burnout! I urge everyone to go there and sign up (even though it lowers the odds that I'll win another awesome book like Burnout.)

Before I entered the drawing on Free Book Friday, I had never heard of Burnout. I owe Jessica Brody a big thank you for enlightening me as this is one of the best books I've read in a while. It's short, but it could have been twice as long and it still wouldn't have taken me long to read it. I'm not a particularly fast reader, but Burnout is one of those can't-put-it-down kind of books. Vrettos keeps you on the edge of your seat, just itching to find out what happened to Nan the day before, why she can't remember anything about it, and why she's having blackouts.

Besides the suspense, I really liked how Vrettos developed her characters. Not only is the book short, but the primary story unfolds over the course of a single day. Not much room for character development. But the chapters alternate between the current day and memories of Nan's past. Vrettos uses those memories to paint a rich picture of a girl who faced some difficulties in life and had made some poor choices, but had taken steps to correct her life's course. But every new piece of evidence Nan uncovers about the previous day is another knife slash through her portrait of redemption. Add in growing concern for her friend's safety and you've got a recipe for a great book. 

The biggest downside to Burnout is that it's so short. Don't get me wrong, Vrettos accomplishes everything she needed to in those 200 pages. But I could have easily devoured another 200! I'm giving Burnout five turntables and immediately adding all of Adrienne Maria Vrettos' other books to my reading list!

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