Monthly Archives: June 2013

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

“We all got to be winners sometimes. But what he didn’t understand was that we all had to be losers, too. Because you can’t have one without the other.”
-Valerie

Valerie and her boyfriend Nick, two outsiders who are picked on by virtually everyone in their high school, compose an ever-growing list of people and things they hate as a method of venting frustration. But one day, Nick brings a gun to school and starts to shoot many of the students on the list. After months of interrogation and recovery, Valerie is ready to go back to school for her senior year– but will her fellow classmates hold her actions against her?

The idea of whether Valerie is guilty of anything is for you to decide, but regardless of your decision, her story is a remarkable one. Valerie goes through so much throughout the span of the novel, from watching her fellow classmates and boyfriend die to being interviewed by persistent police officers to trying to lead a normal life once again. Her story is inspiring and hopeful, with an ending that is absolutely beautiful.

I was going to tell you guys about my theory that Bea is an angel, but I’ll skip over it and instead talk about the author’s note, specifically how Jennifer Brown named her characters symbolically. The examples she used were as follows (direct quotes, not my words):

Valerie’s last name is Leftman because she was “left” to take the rap for Nick’s actions. Nick’s last name is Levil, which is almost “evil,” and may even look like “evil” at first glance, but if you go back and look again… it’s not quite “evil.” Principal Angerson was an angry kind of dude. Angela Dash was a crummy reporter, just “dashing” off stories without double-checking her facts. Bea had no last name. She was just Bea (or Just Be). Detective Panzella was named after an Italian bread salad (panzanella), because he was about as plain as a bowl full of day-old bread. And, of course, Dr. Hieler, pronounced “healer,” is pretty self-explanatory.

So there you have it. Everything makes much more sense if you know the characters, of course, but you see where I’m coming from. The idea of imagery or symbollism hidden in names is really cool, in my opinion, and it gave me a great idea for my writings. (Yes, I’m thinking about writing a book or two. Go on and laugh; I don’t blame you.)

Sorry it took so long for me to post this review. I sat down to write it at about eight, then got distracted and watched the new movie Side Effects (which was incredible, by the way). Then, after the movie was over, I began writing again, explaining my entire theory on Bea. I deleted it shortly after finishing it, realizing how awkward it sounded, and was once again distracted by all of the fan theory articles I’d found across the web. Oh well; hopefully the review was fine, regardless of my constant distractions and revisions. Have a great night, everyone, and I’ll see you in a few days. 🙂

-J

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Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

“The phrase booze and mischief left me worrying I’d stumbled into what my mother referred to as ‘the wrong crowd,’ but for the wrong crowd, they both seemed awfully smart.”
-Miles “Pudge” Halter

(I’m sort of copying this description from the back of the book, since I don’t know how else to word it. So just so you guys know, the words of the following paragraph are not mine.)

Before: Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After: Nothing is ever the same.

Although I’ve only read one of John Green’s novels so far, I still consider him one of my favorite authors. Why? Because of this book. Forever one of my favorites, Looking for Alaska peers perfectly into the mind of an outcast teen who finds acceptance at an Alabama boarding school. And, once again, an author has managed to make me develop a crush on one of their fictional characters (this time being Chip “The Colonel” Martin, but until the movie comes out, I refuse to gush about him like I did with Two-Bit in my review of The Outsiders).

So maybe I’m just obsessed with this novel because I love John Green as a person as well as his writing. If you have a Tumblr account, no matter what kind of blog you run there, you’ve most likely run into something about him at some point. And you may have heard of his YouTube account, vlogbrothers, which is one of my favorites. So there’s a little bonus for reading this review. 🙂

I really don’t want to accidently reveal any spoilers about this book, so I can’t say much else. But please, whatever you do, check into this book if you haven’t yet read it. It’ll make you both laugh and cry, it’ll fascinate you, and it’ll cause you to become obsessed with John Green as well. I promise, you won’t regret it.

-J

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