Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Pages: 405
Publisher: Little, Brown
Published: September 1st, 2009
IBSN: 9780316041447

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.

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I'd heard of Hate List many times (also, it's distinguishable in the background bookshelf of almost every vlog I've ever watched) before I read its synopsis on Goodreads. And once I read that summary, I knew I had to read it.

Our main character, Valerie, made the Hate List with her boyfriend, Nick. They listed the people that they hated together. Neither of them is the most popular or most happy person at the school, but Valerie is still taken aback when Nick takes fire to the people on the Hate List. She throws herself in front of her enemy and gets shot for her - the last person shot before Nick turned the gun on himself.

The premise was heavy and intense and utterly unique to anything I've read - or even heard of - before. The shooting scene was well-written and felt incredibly realistic - I was shaking while reading it. Valerie's narration of the scene in hindsight was genuine and rife with emotion.

In fact, all of the pros
e was rife with emotion. Valerie's voice was sad and angry and hopeful all at once. I felt real sympathy for her, knowing that none of what happened was her fault but she was blamed for it all the same.

The plot was well-paced and slow-burning. The story had its up and downs, but the ending was perfect: if not a happily-ever-after then at least things began to look up.

Hate List is definitely the book for you if you're looking for emotional, intense reads with a hopeful underlying message. I recommend it to fans of Courtney Summers's books.

I give Hate List a 5 out of 5.