“Flash Fire”

TJ Klune

I mentioned in my review of the first book that opening with a salvo of self-insert fanfic is a powerful way to begin a book, and apparently the author agreed, because this one opens with a full-on broadside. And out of that cringe frying pan, and into the awkward fire of a teenager being caught, mid-makeout-session, by his dad. Oof.

Nick, the protagonist, remains categorically the best take on a teenager I’ve ever read. No other superhero media captures quite the degree of astonishingly bad decision-making provided by the average 16-year-old boy. Peter Parker has his one dramatic character moment early in every reboot, and then after that he’s a mature adult? I’m gonna need a story arc explaining that along with the walking on the ceiling, the spider bite also magically fixed the mess of hormones that is Being A Teen, because I refuse to believe how stupid he isn’t most of the time. Nick, though? Nick is an ongoing disaster, and it’s hilarious. I had to put the book down just to laugh, multiple times.

It helps that he’s got a good support network, because just about every character that’s there is wonderful. His friends are just as hilarious, the parents—and, good lord, I’m suddenly feeling my age as I write this—are very relatable as they roast their kids for the aforementioned very bad decision-making skills, and there’s a few new characters that show up partway through that make it just that much more fun.

I picked this up within a week of finishing the last one, which I highly recommended, and I’m gonna highly recommend this one too. My biggest complaint is that it’s the second of three books, and the story arc has a distinctive Empire Strikes Back feel of “oh, this isn’t getting wrapped up well by the end of the book, is it” throughout. But then, I picked up the third book at the same time I was grabbing the second, so it turns out I’m pretty well-prepared for that.1

I loved this book as much as I did the first one. Obviously, start with the first book, but, y’know, go ahead and grab the second too.2

  1. That isn’t the only parallel to cinema that’s present in the meta-level; the book also has a post-credits sting that hit me like a truck, in the same way that some of the Marvel end-credits scenes just locked me in for watching the next one in the franchise.
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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