From Colleen Mondor, a Bookslut columnist and reviewer for Booklist and Eclectica Magazine:
12 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CRASH AND BURN by James Proimos
Proimos manages to make the most of every word in the 128 pages of 12 Things to Do. In the opening, we learn that sixteen-year-old Hercules has lost his self-help guru father in a plane crash and is being sent for two weeks to his uncle's home so his mother can deal with the aftermath. ("Herc" is a bit of a mouthy handful and she would like a break in the post-funeral period.) As it turns out, while Dad was very good at telling the world how they should live their lives (and making a pretty penny at it), he was not good at being a father. Herc makes his opinion clear at the funeral when he uses his moment in front of the congregation to say, "He was an ass. My father was a complete and total ass." It makes sense why his mother would need a break.
Uncle Anthony is a hard worker who has a decent relationship with his nephew and decides to challenge him in an unorthodox manner. Rather than allow him to wallow around the house during his visit, he gives Herc a list of twelve tasks (cue the Greek gods reference) that must be completed before he leaves. They include "Choose a mission," "Muck the stalls at Riverbend Farm," "Go on seven job interviews," and "Find the best pizza joint in town." Herc's knee-jerk reaction is to rebel, but Uncle Anthony is undaunted; the boy will do what he needs to do. So, because he really has no choice, Herc sets out (in a huff) and finds himself accomplishing the pizza joint task. From there many other things fall into place and suddenly the list becomes a lifeline not only to filling his days but also facing his long held frustrations with his father and, most importantly of all, figuring out just what kind of man he wants to be. The list gives Herc perspective, it gives him goals, it gives him hope. It turns out Uncle Anthony is a bit of a genius, or at the very least knows a lot more about manhood than you expect. His honest advice, Herc's believable adventures, and Proimos's outstanding style make 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn one of the quickest and best reads I've had in ages. I highly recommend giving it to any teenager. It's outstanding.