Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2009
Paperback, 408 pages
Borrowed from Library

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.
On May 2nd 2008, the students of Garvin High's lives were forever changed. Nick Levil, a quiet and angry Junior, opened fire in their Common area killing many students and himself. This story is told from his girlfriend Valerie's point of view and picks up months after the event.

I thought that I was going to read a book about a high school shooting. I wasn't sure what I was expecting really. Gruesome details? Psycho reasons behind orchestrating a mass murder? I don't know. But what I got was a gorgeous, realistic and poignant story of what happens after such a tragedy.

I didn't know how to feel about the MC Valerie. She seemed aloof, self hating and almost whiny. So when we were hearing most of the story from her point of view, I was almost disappointed. But this was only temporary. When she started piecing her life together and introducing us to the her dysfunctional family dynamic,  her relationship with the shooter Nick & the HATE LIST itself, I understood how extremely tragic her character is. She is as complex as she is simple. She is as scared as she is bold. She is as sad as she is angry. She's all these things that can't be explained and the best part is that the author takes you along with her as she tries to figure these things out.

Secondary characters like her friends, her enemies and the therapist Dr. Heiler round this story out to be an absolute winner for me. Another example of how the author bends your perspective is the way she made me feel about Valerie's Dad vs the way I feel about Nick the shooter. While Nick murdered all of these students, I loved him and  I felt sorry for him. I wished he were alive for more of the book and almost want her to write a prequel from his point of view. Conversely, without giving away any story, I'll just say, I hate her Dad and he didn't kill anyone.

In conclusion, I loved HATE LIST. Despite some of the sections that dragged on a little, I think it is a complete win. This book gets 4 out of 4 stars from me. I highly, highly recommend this book to any and everyone especially those who are fans of YA Fiction about self-realization and incorporates realistic high drama.


  1. Yehey! I knew this would be awesome. Can't wait to read it myself :D

    And about the Alex Cross thing, I agree with you, I think Idris Elba fits the role better than Tyler Perry because he's got all the qualities of Cross: Intelligent, serious, sensitive, yet very badass. Perry looks all kinds of cool too but he just does not look very serious to me. But who knows? He might wow us with his performance.

    On a side note, I have read some comments that maybe he was cast so he could play Alex Cross AND Nana :D

    Brush Up On Your Reading

  2. Thank you for the review. I need to get this book, and read. Sounds interesting.

  3. Enjoyed your review! Hadn't heard of this one, and it sounds like a fascinating story!

  4. I really want to read this book because I've never heard of a book with a similar plot. It sounds really interesting. Great review!

  5. I've heard such great things about this one! I've got it in my to be read pile! Great review.


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