Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Social Issues, Violence, Bullying
eARC provided by Sourcebooks Fire
10:00 a.m. 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.
10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03 The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05 Someone startsshooting.
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.
So this book took on some tough topics. Bullying, violence in schools, mass shootings, death of children, sibling rivalry, and child abuse, just to name a few. The story had 4 different POVs and the action started pretty early in the story. The story takes place over just 54 minutes of these people’s lives. It should be a wild ride. It should have had me in tears or at least evoked a little bit of angst. It didn’t.
The problems for me were many in the reading of this story. Let’s talk about them one by one.
First, there were too many POVs. I felt like we didn’t spend enough time with any one character to care enough about them. Also, I felt like all of the characters were pretty flat. They had their own little stories but all their voices were the same. They were all trying to do the right thing. Their thoughts were so clear in the face of danger. The author described crying in the background, but all of our characters were brave in the face of fear. Not one of our main characters cried or pissed themselves during this altercation. Really?
The “bad guy” was so evil. He was also one of the most boring. I can’t remember the last time I was so bored learning about a criminal. Lots of kids live through bad stuff, not all of them go and shoot their classmates. Nothing In Tyler’s story stood out as something that would have lead me to that conclusion. Also, most school shooters aren’t also attention whores. This guy had these kids rapt attention for almost an hour while he talked about how this is all their fault. That takes a certain amount of bravery on the part of the shooter. It actually made me think of movies where the bad guy reveals all of his tricks and reasons right before he kills the good guy. It was poorly done. Mass shootings usually don’t give people time to think and analyze during the event, that is part of what makes them so tragic.
Too much diversity, and it wasn’t done well. I think there comes a point when any sort of quirk can be called diverse, so if everyone in the story is from a different background or not heterosexual then I am gonna start to wonder what even makes these people diverse. They were all so diverse. It felt forced. Hey, I am all for diversity, but this was too much. View Spoiler »Also, I absolutely HATED that Tyler wanted (nay, needed) to kill his sister because she likes girls. This is the dumbest reason I have ever seem for vengeance in a fictional character. It’s like the author wanted make doubly sure the reader understood the reason for tolerance in society. « Hide Spoiler FYI, I don’t need my diversity spoon fed to me.
The topic of this story was TOO BIG for the story itself. You can’t use something like school shootings as a subject and keep everything so plastic. There was no evidence of how these kids actually interacted with each other or how much potential they really had before this tragedy take place. The whole story is told in terms of what will never be, without actually evoking any bit of sympathy from the reader.
Too much social media. I get that everyone is tweeting and texting and instagraming pictures, but this did not add to the story. I skipped right over all that shit, because it added nothing to the story. The media trying to get interviews while the shooter was still there didn’t add anything either.
This is not how a mass shooting should be talked about. This story should open up dialogue about the state of affairs today. This story did not do anything for conversation. I didn’t even feel anything for the kids that got killed in this story. Why? Because the author didn’t bother to tell me about them until after they were dead, and I hate info dumps in a story.
I know this story got lots of love from readers early on, but I mostly hated this book.