Monday, January 23, 2012

Review of Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads 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.

Hate List is an emotionally stunning novel.  While reading this novel so many emotions and feelings are brought to life and they are never what ones you expect.  The villains are not always the villains, and the good guys are not necessarily angels either.  Once you think you figured someone out, a new piece of information is brought forward that changes your outlook.  It is very true to real life and shows the complexity of human emotions...both good and bad. 

Valerie is broken.  She doesn't understand exactly what happened last spring and even more importantly why it happened.  Valerie is such an interesting character and one who is in a very unique situation.  While she isn't the one who shot anyone, she is the one who started the Hate List and she did love Nick.  As the you learn more about Valerie your opinion of her may change.  Even after reading this novel I'm not quite sure what to think of her or how guilty I believe she is.  At times I wanted to scream at other people that she isn't the one who shot anyone, but on anther page I wanted to tell Valerie that her actions are not completely without fault either.

Hate List is one of those books that really makes you think.  One of the reoccurring questions is who is to blame for all of this.  Of course, Nick is the one pulling the trigger, but what about all the actions that led him to pick up the gun.  What about Valerie and the Hate List?  What about all of the bullies?  This is a difficult issue to discuss because a lot of the bullies died or were injured, but at the same time the bullying was never really discussed with the school.  There were times it was brought up among the student's themselves, but I wonder how much of it was brought up with the faculty and the parents of this school.

There were situations in the novel where Nick was bullied that I was literally in tears.  I felt so much for him during these times that I wanted to reach out to him.  I know that being bullied is not a reason for him to go around shooting people and I'm not justifying his actions, but I understand a little more about where his pain and his anger came from.

Captivating and thought-provoking, Hate List is a book that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.    


  1. This looks like such a sad read. I've read her second book, Bitter End, and I really enjoyed that one. I'm really glad to know that you liked this one, it just sounds so powerful. Thanks for the review!

  2. Oooh! I'm a big fan of stories that keep you questioning until the end, but I don't know if I'd be ready for the turmoil a story like this would bring. I''s very uncomfortable to find yourself feeling sympathy for someone who decides to take such a destructive path, which sounds like something that might happen to me with Nick.

  3. Great review! I wanted to get to this one as soon as I received it last summer, but for some reason I haven't yet. I really hope to bump it up on the list of books I want to read soon!

  4. This sounds very similar to Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult which is also about a school shooting and shows numerous perspectives that make you think!


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