Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Hate List

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets. 

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Hate List is definitely on a heavy topic. Valerie is returning to school after her boyfriend Nick killed and injured many fellow students in a school shooting, precipitated by a hate list they had written together.

There's a lot I enjoyed in this book. I love Valerie's therapist and a couple of the other characters--the girl she saved, her little brother, a woman she meets by chance. They're all wonderful.

It also puts into great perspective that your actions, even small ones, can have a great influence on those around you.

I liked that it showed the human side of Nick. This is really what Valerie struggles with and it took her a whole book to figure it out, so I'm not sure I can sum it up but--everyone, even those who do terrible things, start the same. We're all human and we make mistakes and we hurt and we love. And the awful things people do come from fear and hate and loss and... yeah.

Hate List basically shows a school year in Valerie's life, with flashbacks to the year before, when the shooting happened, and the summer before. Because the scope is pretty wide, we see a lot of Valerie's life--her struggles with her classmates, her parents, her therapist, her brother, herself. So it's very realistic in that way.

But it also means that we never get very close to all the characters I loved. Hate List is very intrinsic, very much in Valerie's head instead of action based. Everyone else is at a distance to allow all Valerie's thoughts and struggles take center stage.

I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I don't think I'll read it again, but it did make me cry and was worth the read.

1 comment:

Alyx said...

Have you read 19 Minutes by Jodi Piccoult? It's got sort of a similar story line. It was SO GOOD!


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