I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th 2016
Genres: Crime, Realistic Fiction, Sociology, Young Adult
10:00 a.m.Amazon •
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won't open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
Mature-Content Rating: Extreme Teen Violence, Light LGBT
“‘I wanted to fit in here.’ His voice rises and falls with a singsong cadence. He has the gun in one hand. His other rests on his waistband where, strapped over his dress shirt and slacks, he carries cartridges of ammunition, perhaps even another gun. ‘Instead, I lost everything.’”
This read ended up being a major disappointment for me. I started out knowing, because of the subject, it was going to be dark and may hit a few sensitive marks. Unfortunately I never came to care enough about the characters to worry with the situation.
The story flips back and forth through multiple characters in different places throughout the school, which could have worked, but they all have some kind of relationship to the others. I found myself having to go back multiple times to remind myself who was who and how they were connected to the others. Overall it just became annoying and contributed to why I never connected to the characters.
There’s also a very severe lack of adults in this novel. Where the heck are all the teachers?! There’s a mention of one or two of the teachers, but as the shooter goes about his business where’s the trained leadership of the school staff in all this chaos? Maybe the author thought she could get away with it just being a “small” school, but small, country schools still have the same requirements as other schools. It’s clear the author wanted the teens to be heroes of the story, but don’t turn the book into a no-adults-exist super-teens story.
The gunman was another point that was lacking. What motivated his actions? He talks a lot with not much to actually say. He has family problems, and he points out that he was lonely, but nothing even hinted on what drove him over the edge and why he chose to take out his pain/anger on the school. To me this felt like a big cop-out, because there’s always controversy over if the shooter could have been stopped if his depression/bullying/abuse was found out beforehand.
Overall, I didn’t like this book. There were diverse characters (how in the world there could be that many diverse characters in that small of a school, no idea, but hey, lets go with it), but the characters lacked any depth. I’d probably skip over this one.