Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things they hated. The list her boyfriend 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.
HATE LIST is a novel that I knew I'd like just after reading the synopsis. I was expecting the plot to be carried out nicely, the writing to be catchy, and the characters to be distinct. But what I wasn't expecting was the novel to be so much more!
The plot, for one, is original and unique. The book discusses topics that are serious and difficult to come by. However, the novel demands to be read further. The plot was fulfilled entirely, showcasing Jennifer Brown's talent. Though the plot did play a big role in the accomplishment of the skillfully crafted book, the writing also kept the novel moving at a comfortable pace.
Valerie is an amazing character, unlike any other I've read about. Her constant questioning about her life, Nick, and her future only makes me appreciate her more. She repeatedly wonders why she didn't see this other side of her boyfriend, the side that possessed him to kill the people whose names were on the Hate List, and why no one else sees the side that she saw, the side that loved Shakespeare and the side that she loved. Her confusion finally comes to a closure in the end, reassuring her acceptance.
Brown has grasped the true voice of an accused and lost teenager that has come to question everything they thought they knew. I felt as though I was reading a nonfiction novel, because everything seemed so vivid and real, like reading about someone's life. The newspaper articles, used in the novel to explain the victims' deaths and their family's reaction, also added to the realistic feel of the fictional novel.
HATE LIST is an incredible and incisive debut novel; it will shock readers. Jennifer Brown has definitely caught my attention with this one. I'll be anxiously waiting to hear about what she'll write next.