Monday, September 21, 2009
Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
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.
The Good: Bold, brave, gutsy, and groundbreaking, Hate List had a little bit of everything we all strive for in our own writing. I found Natalie to be sympathetic and relatable. I wanted her to have a happy ending, to find her way out of the pain and the guilt. The story was heavy, and yeah, so there were tears. Lots of them toward the end. And they were all well-earned.
The Less Good: Some of the secondary characters are a little one-dimensional. There was a bit too much "I" sentence repetition in parts, sometimes 6-8 sentences in a row beginning with "I." The timeline could be hard to follow, with flashbacks within flashbacks at times, and for about 50 pages, the book stopped forward momentum and went back in time--to just after the shooting. All of this information was important and added to the story, but I found myself thinking, "I want to know how she's doing NOW!" But when it picked back up again, it didn't stop.
The "Ugly": Definitely check this one out. Despite its flaws (which StephSu does a great job of pointing out on her blog), I really enjoyed Hate List, so much so that I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it. So much so that I wish I had had the kiwis to write it myself.