Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman`s boyfriend Nick opened fire in the school cafeteria and killed and injured several teachers and students including Valerie. Most people initially thinks she was in on it or at least that she knew about her boyfreind`s plans. Both Valerie and Nick were outsiders at school and together they created a "hate list" with names of people and things they really disliked or hated. This list were found by the police and known by the public shortly after the shooting. Nick obviously used this list to target his victims so no wonder people blame Valerie. When her stay at the hospital and the summer holidays are over she is forced to confront her guilt and fear and return to school. Old friends and even family turn their back on her and some new and unexpected people welcomes her. But will she forgive herself and move on with her life?


My thoughts:

First and foremost Hate List is about Valerie and she is a very complex and interesting character. She is confused and broken because she still loves Nick but cant`t tell anyone. She blames herself on one hand and on the other she does`t. She doesn`t in any way understand why Nick did this terrible thing but feels she probably should have known. She thought he was messing around when he talked about wanting to hurt people or is this something she keeps telling herself to justify why she didn`t contradict him? Recently before the shooting he`d started to hang out with an older guy and Valerie felt left out because Nick didn`t share as much with her anymore. Still she didn`t suspect anything. The way people treat Valerie made me really angry but Valerie`s way of thinking and denying that she had any part of this also made me angry. She didn`t shoot anyone but she was part of creating the list of people that were targeted. In fact she was the one that started it. Even after reading the book you don`t have an answer to why this happened and how guilty Valerie really was. It is up to the reader to decide and personally I`m not sure. Her perspective gives the book something special and makes it such an interesting read.

Even though Hate list is an easy read and written in a way that really captures you the content is obviously not to be taken lightly. The story about what happened on the day of the shooting, earlier stories of  incidents that made some og the people get their names on the list and how Valerie copes with it are given to the reader bit by bit in separate chapters. This is very effectful. You don`t get the whole background story at once and all the pieces come together in a puzzle that is not at all black and white. It`s like we process things together with Valerie and your initial thougts might change. Is she without any guilt? Are the people on the hate list without blame? And is Nick only an evil guy? The author makes us feel both sympathy and anger for Nick because he was also a victim but his actions are of course in no way exusable.The book doesn`t give us the answers to these questions because as in real life situations, things are very complicated. Hate List both allows you to and makes you think and that is what makes this a good book. High school bullying definitely occurs and hate and anger amongst the ones that are bullied rises even though fortunately the consequences rarely gets this extreme. Bullying is not really the main issue of the book though but it is definitely an important topic and the school didn`t handle the issue of bullying or the situation very well. In extreme incidents like this people easily get blinded by hatred and the importance of placing blame instead of dealing with what created the situation. And I guess placing blame is a main issue here, how difficult it often is. By not really giving us any answers only more questions this book is one you don`t forget that easily.

My rating:

I bought my own copy


  1. This book had me all over the place. I agree that the way it was written didn't make it a hard read, but the subject matter did. I fell the way the other wrote is very realistic and what I would be feeling if I was in their situation.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I agree that the way we were given bits of information about events leading up to the shooting, almost as Valerie processed them, was very effective. As a high school student I also appreciate the author's grasp of the faults in the school system and how often bullying incidents are pushed aside or written off, as this is often the case. Teachers and authority figures don't often take these things seriously until something like this happens. Gave this book a 5/5.
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  3. I haven't heard of this book before- but it sounds very powerful. I like the unique perspective and it is a book I have now added to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your review.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)