Firecracker by David Iserson // Book Review



What can I say about a book that fits a niche reader? It will only appeal to those asking for it and believe me when I got what I wanted. Astrid Kreiger is a spunky kind of girl who gets what she wants when she wants it. She’s fully self aware of her privilege and makes no excuses for the type of class she’s been born into: the 1%. When you think about it, it’s really fitting that a profusely wealthy girl who schemes through life is more probable to exist in fiction.

Now the premise is fairly simple. Get revenge and claim back the throne; however, along the way she discovers the true meaning of Christmas and decides to take the high road. That’s great and all but this is not one of those stories. I agree with the message within this novel in a way that abides to reality. At the end of the day, Astrid is still filthy rich (for now), beautiful(?), and powerful. There are hardly any serious consequences for her actions that money can’t fix. How does doing a few good things undo or compensate for years worth of damage? The answer: it can’t. She has to except where she came from but make an effort to change. Similar to “be in the world, not of it”.

Like the little manic pixie dream girl she is, Astrid also gets into all kinds of hijinks and has an abundance of quirks. Even her flaws are quirks. This is the core issue of the trope as it does not allow for character development made even more difficult when it’s a mpdg protagonist. She is a concept not a person. Astrid embodies the kind of girl that is written into fan fiction. You know, that cool, majestic enigma. Now factor in the love interest who presents himself as another manic pixie dream person written as a tool to guide Astrid.

Noah is selfless and quirky with weird hobbies and a mysterious past. It’s all relative to the plot and the reader finds that he has ulterior motives. Yet, he still gives himself to her entirely. In a way, Astrid and Noah are not nuanced interpretations of the mpd trope but simply a slightly fleshed out idea. It’s not all bad considering that the humor is where it’s at. If you don’t take this book seriously, I don’t recommend that you should, it’s a light-hearted and fun read. I don’t mind that in the least because it executed well in that genre. The jokes are quick and I often laugh after reading a sentence or two afterwards (my brain finally caught on). It’s not too offensive but it is definitely clever.

This book is not meant, in my opinion, to be an insightful, poigant take on existential virtues. Astrid isn’t going to teach everyone a lesson about living a meaningful life because we already know what she has to learn. Let people into your heart and love whenever you can is a cliche if there ever was one. The ending is simply hopeful because one person cannot change years of who they were in a single day. I liked that especially because mpd characters are the specific type of tropes to convey these messages. Again, it’s a book for a niche reader well versed in the genre (coming of age through the use of manic pixie dream characters).

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