Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: Flash by Michael Cadnum


When two teenage brothers bungle a bank robbery, their attempt to hide the evidence is witnessed—aurally—by Terrence, a legally blind neighbor. Terrence tells his girlfriend, Nina, and her brother, who then disappears with a handgun. Nina is afraid of what he might do to the brothers. But she also has every reason to fear what the brothers will do to Terrence.

ingeniously interweaves the stories of two who are hellbent on a destructive path, two who stand in their way, and one whose actions may be the spark to set the whole thing off.


Flash is a unique tale shifting between four central characters. Told in third person, the reader still gets to know each person strongly as well as a few accessory characters that still play strong roles. Both a story of action and advancement as well as character development and progression, Flash paints a realistic portrait of desperation and skewed judgments.

Bruce and Milton, brothers both as alike as they are different, are the central players in this story, focused on trying to make a quick buck by robbing a bank. From the formation of the idea and planning to the actual heist and subsequent fall out, the way these two both like and resent each other is bold and brash. Their reasons and motivations are understandable despite the outcome and actions, and both are pitched in a sympathetic light. Their criminal mindset and justifications are tremendously well played. Cadnum does a remarkable job portraying and expanding both boys, tugging at the reader in favor of them.

Terrence witnesses not the bank heist but the subsequent attempt to cover it up. Despite his very poor vision, he hears enough and puts together enough- strengthened by his distrust of the brothers- to pose a risk. The fear he feels, determination towards good, and motivations are realistic. He is a great contrast to not only the brothers’ personalities but also their views and way of life.

Nina is Terrence’s girlfriend and plays her own strong role in the overall plot. Torn between her affection and desire to protect Terrence and the unexpected return of her solider brother, Nina’s story is both separate and intertwined with Bruce and Milton’s. She allows for a shift from some of the main plot, having her own story arcs that add extra intrigue throughout.

The writing is gritty and bold, pitched in a succinct, straight forward manner and holds interesting insights throughout. Opposing views clash and blend and force the reader to put in their own take on things rather than falling into one character’s bias. Overall, the plot keeps a strong pace and the four character’s plights blend together before reaching a powerful climax. The implications and lingering ramifications are ones that come out in waves, subtle things not immediately known.

Though I’m not one to require a completely tied up, happy ending, I did feel as though something was lacking at the end of this book. While normally I am able to understand and appreciate why an author ended a book certain way- even if not the ending I would have liked- I had a harder time with this one. I stayed engaged and engrossed throughout, only to feel as though I was suddenly in front of a cliff at the end. Apart from feeling as though there could have been slightly more tie ups, this book is overall a success and a hit.

Cadnum has strong characters, fantastic and unique writing, and a challenging plot all tied together in Flash. There are few books matching in style and the plot execution is, overall, well played. Despite the third person narrative, there is a strong connect to the various characters and their personalities, quirks and desires are well portrayed.

Source: ARC received for review from author/publisher in exchange for review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374399115
ISBN-13: 978-0374399115

1 comment:

  1. This sounds awesome. I love the premise and your review is really well written and thought out :)