My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Caught in a swirl of confusion of a school shooting, Valerie saves another student's life, getting shot in the process. When she awakes in a hospital bed, she discovers from detectives and news coverage that her boyfriend, Nick Levil, was the Garvin high school shooter and she was suspected to also have a role in the crime.
Valerie and Nick were relatively average teens, with normal angst and drama. They were picked on in school, which led to them beginning a notebook of all the people they hated, dubbed the 'Hate List.' Valerie had no idea that Levil would later on pick his targets from the very same list.
The book is set during Valerie's senior year, with flashbacks to the shooting and her life before it. She is confronted by animosity and bitterness from her classmates. She becomes a true outcast, until she begins an unlikely friendship with the girl she saved, who is also the most popular girl in school. 'Hate List' brings to light the effects bullying can have, on not just the victim, but everyone involved.
When I first bought Hate List, I was intrigued and excited. How would I feel if someone I loved was a murderer? How could my family and friends believe I was responsible for a shooting? How could I move on from a tragedy like this? I was hooked for the first few chapters; my interest piqued with the article clipping and the flashbacks. The other 300 pages left me feeling unconnected and cold towards the characters. The characters were flat and very black and white. Either good or bad. On Valerie's side or against her.
I was disappointed that Brown never went into more detail about Nick. He would have been a fascinating character! Who was Jeremy and how did he influence Nick in the last few weeks of his life? She introduces Jeremy for three paragraphs and never says anything more.
Bea, the two-dimensional crazy old woman whose sole purpose is for her to discover art, made no sense at all. She was completely unnecessary.
Her parents did not find her innocent and were weary of Valerie. Her father threatened to disown her and told her he still thought her responsible for the shooting. I know people hold grudges and should be expected to think that way sometimes, but his character never rang true to me. He is a lawyer and didn't even care when detectives questioned her daily, with no guardian present? Doesn't sit right with me. Her mother felt a little more believable, trying to shield her from the media and outside world. She seemed a little over-protective at times, but she obviously cared for her daughter.
Nick and Valerie were often described as outcasts, which was completely untrue. They had interests, close friends, good grades. Here is Valerie describing how she felt about school, "Never again would Garvin High have that exciting and intimidating look it held for me as a freshman. Never again would I equate it with mind-bending romance, with euphoria, laughter, a job well done. None of those things most people think of when they imagine their high schools." I don't know about you, but I don't associate high school with delight and excitement or a sense of accomplishment. And an outcast definitely wouldn't use those adjectives.
Another thing that bothered me was the fact that Valerie was outraged by the media painting a picture of peace and holding hands at Garvin, when that's exactly how the book was ended! She even confronted Angela Dash about the phony stories and how after tragedies like the shooting, things don't just go away that simply. Even after the confrontation and visiting the victims' families, you still do not know much more about them and the book has a happy ending with the families of Garvin coming together with forgiveness. Brown ended this book in the most hypocritical way possible.
I was disappointed with 'Hate List.' The book was very light, despite its topic. I was expecting a darker take on this story and more than one view on a subject like this. I guess I should have seen it coming when the book opened with a Nickelback quote.
View all my reviews on Goodreads.com