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Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel
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12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn

12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn - James Proimos It’s not often that you see a short story being sold among the hyped godzillas of YA books. At 128 pages long, and taking only a few minutes to read, 12 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CRASH AND BURN is almost a respite from the books that take days to read and zap you off all your happiness with their sad tales of woe. Although it is short, this book is packed full of humor and wit, more than you would expect for a book with roughly 12,000 words.This book was short, so oddly for me, this review will be short, too. This is the story of Hercules Martino, a kid who has just lost his famous father (a self-help book author) and has been told by his mother to spend the last two weeks of his summer with his uncle in Baltimore. His uncle gives him a list of 12 things to do – things like have a mission, find the best pizza place, go on job interviews, and so forth. His mission to complete every step is comic and full of zingers and fun events, as well as some minor heartbreak, all in the course of just a few short pages.Hercules has a number of things to deal with – death, life, family, friends, love. On the train, he meets the girl of his dreams and we spend most of the book learning more about this hopeless crush and the girl he’s smitten with. Some of the tasks end up done the right way, some are totally forgotten, but the path he takes to discovering himself and learning more about living life to the fullest is quirky and interesting.I enjoyed learning more about Hercules, even though his narration took a few chapters to get used to. I think maybe the author was trying too hard to find that all too important teen voice, but once he hit his stride, it might not have been the most believable but it was passing and interesting. His experiences are totally unlike anything that ever happened to me! Losing books leading to strange encounters with homeless men and angry cousins, horses and pizza, baseball and realizing that first impressions aren’t everything.This book will definitely appeal to hesitant teenage male readers. It’s short and it has a protagonist that boys can definitely identify with. And it’s really funny, to boot. If you have a reluctant boy on your hands, try this book on him – he might enjoy it! I just wish there had been more to the story. It seemed short, and getting into the mind of Hercules more would have helped his case as a protagonist.VERDICT: Short and sweet (by sweet, I mean devilish and hilarious), 12 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CRASH AND BURN is an interesting take on the mind of a teenage boy – and you can finish it in only a few minutes!