Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List
Cannonball Read 2011 #2
416 pages

Hate List is another fictional take on high school shootings. However, it shows everything through the eyes of the shooter's girlfriend. Valerie had been dating Nick when he decided to bring a gun to school and shoot a bunch of people before he committed suicide. Valerie not only has to deal with the death of her boyfriend, but also the blame that others have thrown on her. Hate List follows Valerie through her senior year of high school in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Valerie's dilemma is pretty complex. One one hand, she DID participate in a "Hate List" with Nick. They kept a notebook of everyone and everything that they hated. Apparently Nick used the list as a guideline for his shooting spree. Because of the list, everyone assumes Valerie was involved in planning the shooting or had Nick shoot her enemies for her, even though she had no idea what Nick was planning.

On the other hand, during the shooting, Valerie stepped in front of one of the girl's she had put on the "Hate List" and literally took a bullet for a girl that harassed her in the past. Even so, people are reluctant to believe that Valerie had no part in the shooting.

The book was a fairly quick read. It doesn't drag along in spots or try and get "preachy" about bullying or violence. Even though it is fiction, I feel that it was a very realistic portrayal of what a high school would really be like after something like this happened. Valerie gets really upset at one point at the news stories that make their high school look peaceful and unified after the shooting. In reality, there will always be bullying in high school and everyone is not going to suddenly hold hands and be friends even after a tragedy.

I would recommend this book to high schoolers or someone who likes YA books. It's not exactly a work of literary genius, but it gives a fresh perspective of the subject.

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