Immediate con: opening quote is from NICKLEBACK? Come on. Those guys put words in their songs just because they rhyme with other words that are already in the song.
Moving forward: Is it weird if I call this a good old-fashioned school-shooting book? That’s a Thing now, right? Lessee…*pages through looking for tropes*…got yer classic guilty survivor…yer before-and-after narration…
Totally a thing. And this is very much that Thing, as though Brown had read Nineteen Minutes and was all, I’m gonna redux this shit, but with only a third of the similes and completely sans unnecessary romance. Because boy shoots up school and girl feels culpable because they used to be besties versus boy shoots up school and girl feels culpable because they currently are besties. Same same? But different.
HOLYSHITCANWEGETTOTHEPLOTNOW? Nick and Val are besties (the dating kind) and misfits and bullied and they blow off steam by building a List of people they Hate (tiiiiiitle drop) except Val is just venting and Nick is serious. What we have here is a failure to communicate. Shootings follow, summer follows that, and then Val returns to school in the fall with everyone like *blame face.*
And just because the plot arc is fairly predictable doesn’t mean it’s not moving. So much teen angst, and not the usual kind. Or to a different degree, because Val misses her dead-now boyfriend who was also a murderer, and she is ostracized at school for being an (alleged) accessory to murder. There are many tense situations, and an EXCEEDINGLY HEARTWARMING ENDING.
And it’s no We Need to Talk About Kevin, either in soul-destroyery or in hideously pretentious writing (I have yet to read any more Shriver because I’m still fubar’d from WNtTAK, and I read that back in ’08 *shudders still to think*). Hate List is narrated by Val, so Brown starts off in teen patois, with everyone being ‘all’ this or ‘all’ that and with every third sentence ending in ‘or something,’ but maybe a chapter or so in she forgets she was doing that and settles into competent, invisible prose.
Solid addition to the school-shooting canon. Also, bullies? Stop doing that.