Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hate List By Jennifer Brown


                In the "Hate List" by Jennifer Brown, Brown illustrates the life of Valerie Leftman, five months after her boyfriend, Nick, opened fire in their school cafeteria. Valerie was shocked by the event and just as devastated as everyone else who was effected by the shooting. But despite her being emotionally damaged because she is still in love with Nick, and physically damaged because she took a bullet in attempt to protect one of the victims, she still played a role in the shootings because of the list Nick and Valerie made together. The list which included everyone they hated at their school, the same list that Nick used to pick his targets.

                I really liked the way Brown gave us bits and pieces of what happened the day Nick  opened fire at the school throughout the book. I think it made it a lot more interesting because we are left visualizing and coming up with our own conclusion of what really happened that day and the role Jennifer actually played. This is also a weak part of the story because we never really get to know Nick, and what his motivation was that day he killed 6 people. I understand that Brown wanted to write a story about how Valerie was effected by the event, but I still feel like that was a very important part of the story that keeps the reader hanging on. Brown only provides us with flashbacks from Valerie of happier times that they had, painting a positive picture of Nick as the perfect boyfriend, which left me confused and wanting to know more about his character.

                The book is coming from the perspective of Valerie Leftman and the plot revolves around how she is dealing with the shooting as she comes back to school five months after the incident. For me, I found Jennifer's character extremely unlikeable and I think having the story come completely from her perspective made the story feel a bit slow and like it dragged on a bit. Some of the problems I had with Jennifer as a character was that she seemed a little self-centered, she never really showed much remorse for the victims and most of her worries were about herself and how she would deal with going back to school. The whole book you wait for her to take responsibility for building up the hate and negativity with Nick by making the list but she never shows any sign of feeling bad for what she had done. I think Brown should have worked on building a more sympathetic character, especially since she had such a strong connection with the shooter which raises the readers doubts about her from the begining.

                The book handles a lot of difficult subjects including bullying, death, relationships and grieving. Although it was a long read, I feel that a lot of it dragged and a lot of the subjects such as Valerie's home life and Nicks complex character weren't really explained well enough. I think this had the potential  to be a great book but I found myself bored and disappointed with the lack of details that Brown leaves out.

Below is the book trailer for the "Hate List"


JessicaGeelen said...

This sounds like an interesting novel and is very reminiscent of Columbine, which I'm sure is fresh in all of our minds this semester.

I really like that you gave a critique on the main character herself. However, I wonder if making her more sympathetic and remorseful would make her more likeable, but less believable? Is it important to have a likeable protagonist?

Tess said...

I think that's a very interesting question Jessica. I thought about this for a little bit, and honestly, I think it is very important to have a likeable protagonist. As we have read this semester, most young readers feel more connected and engaged in the novel if they have some commonalties with the main characters. I think if the protagonist is more likeable, the more people will try to find similar quailites about themselves within the character. However, I am not sure if that makes the story less beleiveable.

Vincent Restivo said...

I cannot understand how an author would not develop the character of Nick throughout the story to give a better idea of why he chose to become a school shooter,the only idea I can even come up with is that since it is told from Valerie this is being done to illustrate the fact that she is actively suppressing the memories herself.

While the book at first sounded interesting your negative review of it definitely kept me from getting to attached to the idea of looking into it. Your review was very detailed as to what issues the books had while still trying to give some balance by identifying its positive aspects.