Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review - The Hate List: A Novel by Jennifer Brown

The Hate List: A Novel
Author: Jennifer Brown
Year: 2009
Page: 416
Genre: Fiction - Young Adult

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Yes
Tearjerker? A littlel misty eye near the end
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
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.

First Sentence:
The scene in the Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the Commons, is being described as "grim" by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning.

Why did I pick this book?
Read a few good reviews from other bloggers. Since I am doing a YA Challenge, need to read at least 12 this year! I read the non-fiction book about school shooting (for adults) last yer, Columbine by David Cullen, and liked it, so I thought it'd be interesting to read about the topic from a YA novel perspective.

My thoughts:
  • Even though it is over 400 pages, it is a fast read. Jennifer Brown's writing style is straight forward which I appreciate

  • Since I'd read Columbine by David Cullen, which talked about the Columbine High School shooting, it was easy to imagine that this YA novel was real. I suppose since we don't have any kids, this book may not have as much impact on me as it would on others who have children

  • While the plot seemed realistic, I think there were a lot of characters that didn't quite get the attention or that they should be further developed - Bea, Jeremy, Duce, Stacy... characters that you think would play a much bigger role but didn't, thus become more of a distraction (I won't go into details who these characters were, so I won't give out any spoilers)

  • I don't really know if I get a full sense of who Valerie really was (perhaps, like a lot of teenagers, she doesn't really know herself either); and I don't know if it's the author's intention, but I actually ended up liking Nick's character (minus the shooting of cousre)? You couldn't help but feel sorry for him, but I think there is something missing between the sad Nick and the angry Nick

  • I gave this book 3.5 stars for my own personal "enjoyment" (if you could call it that) but it is probably a good book for teenagers, and their parents to read - perhaps together and discuss. The book did touch on a bit on the parents' roles - trust, and how parents affect the children when they don't even know it. Coincidentally, I saw a touching post titled "Be The Change" over at The Betty and Boos Chronicles about school bullying and what her second cousin Joey decided to do about it - he's only 15, and it's heart-wrenching what kids go through. Go to her blog about it please!

  • A couple of quotes from the book, conversations between Nick and Val:

    He turned to face me, propping himself up on an elbow. "It's good that we have each other," he said. "It's like, you know, even if the whole world hates you, you still have someone to rely on. Just the two of you against the whole world. Just us." (p50)

    He leaned over me, close to my face. "It's okay for someone to let you win sometimes, you know, " he said, getting all serious. "We don't always have to be the losers, Valerie. They may want to make us feel that way, but we're not. Sometimes we get to win, too." (p91)


You may also like these books:

Columbine by David Cullen (Non-fiction for adults)

Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!

100+ Reading
Young Adult


  1. Wow this books sounds really good but perhaps sad at the same time. Sometimes I don't like to think too deeply. But I may give it a try. Thanks for reviewing.

  2. @Sarah - I definitely need to alternate between serious books and light-read! I think this one is worthwhile to read...