Info: YA, Paperback, 432 pages, took 4 hours to read
Synopsis: 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.
Why I Chose this Book: I have always been drawn to the mix of tragedy that surrounds school shootings, and they provide so many different viewpoints that have such different perspectives. This book sees through the eyes of villain and victim, so I was interested to see what followed for Val.
What I Liked: In part one, the chapters switch between present and the day of the shooting. It really gave the book a sense of impending doom, since we obviously already know how that day ends. Seeing it tick by showed just how sudden yet predictable events like this can seem in hindsight. It was chilling and terrifying to read the day unfold. I loved the view of both bully and bullied, since we usually only get the latter.
What I Didn’t Like: If I had one complaint, it was that the character Bea was a little flat for me. I would have liked more depth into her character so she didn’t just seem like a plot device. Same with Angela Dash. A fair amount of build up for very little pay-off. Also, while I felt invested in the book and didn’t want to put it down, I didn’t feel the need to keep reading like I usually do. This could have been due to the uncomfortable airplane seat I was in while reading this book. I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Rating and Recomendation: 4.5/5 stars. I highly recommend this book to YA enthusiasts, lovers of psychology, and anyone looking for an interesting study into high school students.
Final Thoughts: I really liked this book. It was a nice change from all the dystopian I’ve been reading lately and I may get back into some contemporary once I finish Pretties by Scott Westerfeld. This was a quick read.