Thursday, May 30, 2013

Burning Down the House

Published:  May 16th, 2013
By: David Iserson
ISBN-13:  9781595143709

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?

     From all of the reviews that I've read about this book, it seems to be one that you either REALLY like/love or one that you straight-up hate!  I am more in the truly like camp of feelings for this particular book.  Astrid Krieger is a truly messed up individual.  She comes from a very rich family, where everyone except for her crazy Grandfather pretty much ignores her and she's been taught that power is everything, that to need anyone else is the worst kind of weakness imaginable.  So when Astrid is betrayed by one of her minions and kicked out of her boarding school, she is determined to find out why exactly they got her kicked out and how they managed it.  In the meantime, she's stuck in public school with the unwashed masses but a boy named Noah might just make things more bearable until Astrid can regain her rightful place at Bristol Academy.  When all Hell breaks loose and her life becomes more of a mess than even she ever imagined, can Astrid pick up the pieces and learn to let someone else into her world finally? 
     I liked the premise of this book and there were a lot of extremely interesting characters.  This whole book centers around Astrid learning that she can't keep everything and everyone distanced from herself forever.  She is a complete and total asshole to everyone around her, the only person being an exception to that is her Grandfather.  Astrid has never truly had friends, only co-conspirators.  She can't stand anyone in her immediate family and refuses to call the exchange student who's obsessed with her by his actual name, instead calling him Pierre.  But when she meets Noah he starts to break through her shield of sarcasm and rudeness.  I loved that she lived in a rocket ship on the property instead of in the house with her family.  I loved the therapy sessions with her former headmaster and thought that his assignment for her was pretty genius.  The way she tries to enact a change in her life, while still being an aggressive, truth-telling bomb of human being was heartbreaking at times and absolutely hilarious at others. 
      I think that my favorite character was a toss up between her Grandfather and Lucy, her hair-chewing friend that she accepts into her life reluctantly.  Both had a certain vulnerability (Lucy's was more obvious) that made Astrid actually stop and think about her actions at times.  Yes Astrid does horrible things to people with practically zero reason: trying to sell the local police station to China, robbing convenience stores, the way she treats Pierre, smashing a Twinkie into a bitchy girl's hair at school.  But she also does good things like giving away burgers at the Dairy Queen, going to Lucy's birthday party and roller-skating when no one shows up, saving her sister's wedding by getting the groom to the church when it looks like he's gonna run for it.  By the end of the novel she is still herself, but has learned that to be an awesome person she doesn't have to alienate everyone.  My main complaint would be the meandering plot that seems to go in a million directions and gets slightly ADD as it moves along.  It takes way too long for Astrid to figure out the mystery behind being kicked out of boarding school, especially who was really behind it.  I had figured out by the halfway point at the latest.  And Astrid's self-monologues did get somewhat repetitive at times.  Overall, it was a seriously amusing and funny book that had memorable characters and a decent plot.  I would recommend it to fans of the more recent run of crazy comedies like Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, who enjoy an edge reminiscent of that T.V. show New Girl, for which the author is a writer.
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published May 16th, 2013.*

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