July 01, 2018

Christopher Kerns: "Crash Alive"

Title: Crash Alive [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Haylie Black (1st of 2 books)
Author: Christopher Kerns [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Fast, often funny, with a smart and determined lead. Unusual scenario for a teen novel.
Cons: Alternation of teen and adult POV/adventuring and scheming makes the pace and tone a bit uneven. Requires some suspension of disbelief. Contains techno-stuff only few people can actually wrap their head around. (Then again, you don't really need to).
Will appeal to: Fans of technology and mystery with a big side of adventure and a huge saving-the-world angle.

Blurb: The only comfort teenager Haylie Black knows is in the world of technology - coding late into the night, building cool gadgets, and occasionally breaking into places where she doesn’t belong. But Haylie’s world is turned upside down when she learns shocking news: her brother has vanished attempting to solve an Internet puzzle known as “Raven 2309.” To find him, Haylie must enter an unknown world, circling the globe and uncovering the dangerous group behind Raven’s design, to outsmart a puzzle that has never been solved. (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I specifically requested a copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.


For some reason, when I requested this book I thought it had a sci-fi angle - so what I got was a bit different from my assumptions, and maybe less up my alley, but I don't regret reading this one. It's smart, adrenalinic, funny, with a determined and sassy (though socially clumsy) lead on the backdrop of a sinister, over-the-top, but still (sigh) not completely far-fetched plan. While the book is mainly from Haylie's POV, there are a few other (adult) characters who tell their side of the story, and they feel more fueled by their own agenda than actually fleshed out - but I enjoyed being in Haylie's head, even when I did understand maybe a fifth of what she was saying/doing 😅. I especially liked her banter with the Sterling brothers (the ones who recruit her to solve the Raven puzzle), the young and golden start-up creators whose only talent seems to be spending money to have people build things they don't even understand. And I loved how there wasn't the usual romance set for Haylie, though there's definitely potential for it to bloom lately. A fresh approach to the world-saving heroine 😉.

* "HAYLIE" definition in Urban Dictionary: "the type of girl who you would think is sweet and innocent but really very cheeky and mischievous [...] gorgeous/pretty and loud [...] will not mind embarrassing themselves in front of others to make them laugh...". [...]


The author states that "All hacks and exploits in this book are based on real technology.". Of course, we non-techno-savvy readers, more often than not, are just along for the ride, but if we don't get the specifics of what hackers and coders do in this story, at least we know it's in the realm of possibilities (though 17 seems a bit too young to be so knowledgeable) and rooted in reality. I will admit that, most of the times, my head was spinning - but I understood enough to realise that the single stunts were feasible. Of course, in real life, no teen would be able to hack their way into such a conspiration, while the rest of the world is no match for it or simply remains oblivious - but if a teen it must be, I'm glad it's a she. I hope Haylie can inspire the next generation of female readers to keep their options open when it comes to choosing a career path. (I mean in the computer field, not in the actual hacking 😂).


For a book so rooted in technology, there's a surprisingly high amount of adventure, danger and running around. Once again, Haylie is the smart one, the problem solver - though she gets some outside help, especially in the one pivotal moment when she thinks she's been had for good. Originally hell-bent on finding her own brother Caesar, who might or might not be in trouble, Haylie finds herself racing against the clock to stop a vicious plan from enfolding. There's a lot of physical sneaking in and out of places, often with hilarious results. I found the book a bit uneven in pace and tone because of the sections where the actual conspiration takes place, but upon rereading it, I realised it could hardly be avoided. All in all, even people like me, who tend to lean toward different literary genres, will enjoy this one.

For more Thriller/Mystery books click here.


  1. I'm not really a fan of books that require additional outside information to fully understand. I think authors of fictional books need to take into consideration that most of their readers might need more background for the story to work. Even if the story is based on technology, and even plausible technology, it needs to be treated like fantasy. Pretend I don't know what you're describing, so be incredibly thorough. Does that make sense? I feel like I'm rambling with no clear direction... haha!

    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. In this case, I think it would have been incredibly boring to have all the additional info...a crash course in hacking and computering...I have a Christopher Pike book where scuba diving is a major plot point, so there are pages and pages with these girls learning all the tricks of the trade, and while I understand that it was necessary, it gets kind of tedious...So maybe it depends on the info LOL.

    2. I can see that... maybe like an info page at the beginning readers can choose to read/not read?

    3. I guess it could work, though in this case it would probably have taken half the book's length LOL.

  2. *Haylie* is a thing??? lol I'm so old.

    This sounds fun even it isn't my usual kind of read.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. I don't know how I found out about "Haylie"...because it's not like I knew either. WE are so old LOL. (Of course, I don't even live in the US...).

      It is fun!

  3. Sassy lead?! Um hello yes I would like to look into this.

    Also in regards to tech I'd say it's quite possible to be very knowledgeable in tech, depending on what it is. A teen who finds technology interesting and aspires to be like Haylie could theoretically know as much she does (though I don't know WHAT and HOW MUCH she knows).

    1. Well, she's a top-notch hacker...maybe that is a tad too much...then again, her older brother taught her things since a tender age.

  4. "but I enjoyed being in Haylie's head, even when I did understand maybe a fifth of what she was saying/doing"

    I enjoy characters who are obviously smarter than me. xD A female computer genius sounds like such a great character for a YA novel!

    Also, you commented on the pace! I was warned, and it was wonderful!

    1. Most people would be intimidated by that very fact...but Haylie being a female computer genius is, indeed, refreshing.

      Haha, that pesky pace. I suppose you've been a good influence 😉.


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