I am going to admit something kind of embarrassing to you. Sometimes I pick books to read off of my TBR pile based on their length. I get legitimately excited about very short books because I know they will help me beef up my goodreads reading challenge numbers. I know, I know, I should not be reading to boost a number but you know, I get competitive with myself. Maybe it’s reading for the wrong reasons, but I’ve come across some pretty decent reads that way. I’ve also picked up books that would have just languished forever on my pile. Friends, I picked up Burnout by Adrienne Maria Vrettos, a book that is two years, or ancient in certain reader circles, just because my copy was only 190 pages with super short chapters. I journeyed into the dangerous world of drugs and alcohol and came out of the book slightly confused, unsure as to what to rate the book.
As Burnout opens, main character Nan is just waking up. She has no idea where she is and what she is wearing. She becomes coherant enough to understand that she is on the subway. Only, she has no clue what happened the night before. She looks down and see’s she’s wearing a costume, her hair has been chopped, and she’s missing her backpack and ID. Turns out last night was Halloween. Nan still has no idea.
Little by little, Burnout unravels Nan’s previous night in a way that basically makes the book impossible to set down. At least for me, because I am that type of reader that has to know what the hell just happened, even when I don’t love the book. As Nan tromps all over New York City, she discovers some very uncomfortable truths about the night before. She also is given to flashbacks of the previous night and the circumstances that lead to it.
Adrienne Maria Vrettos wrote a character that I found interesting, even as I was judging her life choices, because you know I am only human, so I can be a tiny bit judgmental. Anyways, Nan is a bigger girl and is constantly described as being big boned and solid, which is cool I am glad she isn’t the typical YA waif (FYI, I am a waif myself, so I’m not anti-slim people). So, Nan has these feelings of jealousy towards her friend Seemy who is very flighty and thin and impulsive and attention-grabbing. Where Nan is big, Seemy is tiny. Why am I prattling on and on about Nan’s size? Because it plays an interesting role in the story, and that role is not to fat shame Nan, but because she exhibits really awesome body confidence and I loved seeing her say that her body is a battleship as a compliment. So, about Nan’s life choices, Seemy introduces Nan to the dangerous world of alcohol and so, much of Nan’s issues stem from her being a recovered addict and her falling off the wagon. You’ll see, if you decide to read Burnout. I thought that the narrative choices were intriguing and definitely made for as book that wasn’t boring.
The plot in Burnout by Adrienne Maria Vrettos alternates between today and remembering. I thought this was an okay device to illustrate Nan’s journey as a character. We see how she got to the position she is in now and that her life is very far from perfect. Unfortunately, despite my enjoyment of the plot and the character, I could not get past the writing style. I would definite it as kind of what I would think of as hipster writing – it tries to be all profound and artsy but doesn’t quite make the full leap. Meh. The writing starts as being kind of fragmented and action driven, which is fine and all but not for me. A lot of the book confused me and I was not sure what was going on or what the book was alluding to. Maybe I am slow, but sometimes I like when what is happening is being spelled out for me. Also, there’s an epilogue and it felt forced, to me.
As for who should read this — I probably would have loved this book more if I had read it back when I was a youth. I think that people who are interested in books about real life issues and addiction might like this book. Also, if you love a New York City setting, especially the more seedy side of New York, you’ll like Burnout.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher