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Hate List

Hate List

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Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

405 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2009

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About the author

Jennifer Brown

158 books1,603 followers
Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer's weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.

Jennifer's debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association's Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association's Taysha's high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association's Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer's second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha's high school reading list pick as well.

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,681 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews294k followers
November 20, 2015
“People do it all the time--assume that they "know" what's going on in someone else's head. That's impossible. And to think it's possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you're not careful.”

This is the kind of story I was hoping for when I read This Is Where It Ends - a book that promised to delve into the darkness of school shootings, but never moved past a surface view of mindlessly evil shooter vs. poor victims. Hate List, on the other hand, is dark, psychological, sad and angering.

So many things were running through my head while reading this upsetting novel. One was an Abigail Haas quote: "Wouldn't we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?" And another was a memory of something I wrote in my diary when I was about thirteen. Back when I was an angsty, depressed teenager, I wrote the sentence: "some people should really just die."

That came back to me while reading this book. I was angry, I was sad, but did I want to kill anyone? No. Did I have it in me to get a gun and shoot my classmates? It would never even have occurred to me. And that's kind of what this book is about. How we all have dark thoughts now and then. How we all throw away casual sentences like "I could kill her!" but mean nothing by it.

The story, while technically about a school shooting, actually goes far deeper than that. The author chooses to focus not quite on the shooter, not quite on the victims, but on someone in between. Valerie. She was Nick's girlfriend and helped create the "Hate List" - a list of people who had bullied them, humiliated them, judged them. But it was just a harmless list of names, right?

Well, it was until Nick decided to walk into school one morning and pick off the people on that list, one by one, and then kill himself. Now, Valerie's left alive with the blame. Many believe she and Nick planned the shooting, many blame her for creating the list regardless. Her own parents can't look at her. Her group of friends are afraid to be associated with her.

Valerie is a very sympathetic character. It's easy to relate to her, to feel her pain, her guilt, her loneliness and her anger. Everybody hates sometimes, and it is extremely heartbreaking to see her private hatred dragged out for the world to see and to judge. It made me so angry that she was being blamed for writing down the names of those who made her life hell.

And, through her, Nick is not merely an evil boy with a gun. He becomes a human being full of pain and sadness, sick of being kicked into the dirt and treated like shit just for being different. This book breaks down the barriers between victim and villain, between the average teenager and one capable of doing something so horrific.

Whenever school shootings happen, people always look for an answer to those same questions: what makes this kid different from everyone else? Do they have some innate propensity to kill? How am I different? Oh god, am I that different? And I think this book really looks at that, humanizing everyone and offering an understanding of their individual situations and motivations.

It was very powerful and never once stopped making me feel something - sad, angry, frustrated, concerned, and hopeful.

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Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews62k followers
June 12, 2019
Wow, this book was smart. It really delved into the aftermath of trauma from so many angles, ones that make you mad as a reader, and ones that make you hopeful. The writing itself changed and matured throughout the book, which was a bit jarring, but the subject matter is important and handled well in my opinion.
Profile Image for Pam Gonçalves.
Author 9 books10.6k followers
June 18, 2021

Sobreviveu depois da releitura e continuo recomendando muito!
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,954 followers
August 9, 2012
3.5 stars. After sitting on my thoughts for a day, I feel like I can't review this book with any sort of polished thought process, so I'm just going to let my fingers type out whatever comes to mind. I think this book probably deserves a 4 star plus rating because it is a story worth telling and a story worth reading, but a few things held me back from going higher.

1. The timing was off for me. Given that my state has been rocked by several shootings over the past several years (the most recent being the movie theater one; the most upsetting for me personally being the one that happened in my town not long ago at a church we've participated in activities at), I think my mind was having a hard time processing the fact that I was reading this book as fiction, for the sake of entertainment. I might have been better off picking up a real account, such as Columbine instead. I'm not saying that Hate List trivialized the severity of the subject for the purpose of cheap thrills. I've used the word "entertainment" very lightly in this regard. The subject matter was absolutely handled with the utmost of respect.

2. Books like this should be required reading for kids around the middle school age range. Kids need to be told over and over just how bad bullying is. This book managed to show many perspectives on a school shooting, but the one perspective that stood out to me the most was how one person felt like if they'd been a little kinder, there might have been a chance that the entire chain reaction of events might not have been triggered. ONE person out of the many bullies tormenting the offender might have been able to prevent something so horrendous from happening.

3. Most of the book felt cold to me. I can't explain why I felt detached, but I was. It wasn't until the very last section that everything hit me in a big way (it appears that a few other friends thought the same thing), and then I started to cry. The book was worth reading just for the way I felt about the last section, but there was something about the setup which felt sterile to me. Maybe that was the point, who knows...but some of the past and present transitions could have been handled a little smoother.

4. I appreciated that both of the parties (directly and indirectly) involved with the shootings were shown as feeling, thinking, human beings. Too often, we fail to look at the person committing the crime and wonder how they got to such a place that would make them want to hurt other people. This passage near the end of the book made me lose it (I'm not going to consider it a spoiler that you'll figure out the shooter killed himself because that happens a good portion of the time with these types of crimes, so it's something the majority of us would probably assume to be something that would happen) :

Of course Ma would have wanted Nick remembered as a "Beloved Son." Of course she'd do it in the most laid-back way possible - whispering it to him in tiny letters on his headstone. Just a whisper. You were beloved, son. You were my beloved. Even after all of this, I still remember the beloved you. I can't forget.

Even the worst person on earth might still have someone there, remembering them after they are gone - remembering not only the bad, but also the good, the part of that person worth loving.

Just typing that out had me fighting back tears. Maybe if Nick had realized just how loved he was, he wouldn't have felt the need to kill those on the "hate list," those people who bullied him. I guess we'll never know.
Profile Image for Tani.
245 reviews256 followers
September 22, 2020

Hate List is one of the intriguing, catchy and compelling books which makes you think deeply about every side of a crime. A criminal is rejected and punished by the society to justify the victims. The question arises when a criminal is a victim of the society. This book deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. Whenever we watch a news channel, we don't realise how deeply any incident affects the people related to it. This book shows us different sides of a crime, a criminal and the society to emphasise that not everything can be categorised as good or bad.

Valerie returns back to her school after her boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on the school cafeteria resulting the deaths and the injuries of the students. She is implicated to the killing as she was involved with Nick to create the Hate List which Nick used to pick his targets. Even though she saved the life of her fellow classmate, she is blamed by everyone including her own family for being part of the shooting. The best thing is that the book neither superficial nor depressing. It deals with the hardest stuff without making it overwhelming, preachy and judgemental. Valerie is a pessimistic, complex and a tad whiny character but considering what she went through, I think anyone who'd be in her shoes would've done the same. The author has done a great job in writing Valerie’s point of view. Her transformation is complex which gives an unfeigned edge to the book. We can't agree with Nick's actions but at the same time, we feel sad for him because of his vulnerability. The author tried her best to show that everyone isn't the stereotypical characters as we assume them to be.

I couldn't connect to the book as much I wanted to. The unsupportive nature of Valerie’s parents and at the end, of her brother irked me. Jeremy wasn't included in the rest of the book even though he was one of the characters who influenced Nick negatively. Overall, it's one of the powerful book with a beautiful story.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews523 followers
May 10, 2022
Trigger Warnings: shooting and death/violence, suicide, depression, bullying, abuse, toxic relationships, alcohol and drug use, trauma.

I first read this book a year and a half ago and I’m still too emotionally wrecked to talk about it.

I was very intimidated by this book at first, since a) my mom thought it was "too dark for me" (even though there was literally a school shooting two towns over) and b) it was the first book I checked out from my library's Young Adult section way back before seventh grade.

I read it anyway.

“Hate List” is harsh and emotional. It’s just so hard-hitting and deals so well with the themes it covers. It goes into mental health, grief, guilt, bullying and toxic relationships.

The plot follows Valerie Leftman going into her senior year of high school after her ex-boyfriend, Nick, shot and killed multiple people (and then himself) at their school, choosing targets from the notebook that they shared. It was a list of all the people and things they hated.

After spending the summer alone and trying to recuperate, she has to face the trauma of being shot and witnessing the shooting, and the people who know she was involved.

“Nick hated those kids. And they hated him back. That’s why. Hate. Punches in the chest. Nicknames. Laughs. Snide comments. Being shoved into the lockers when some idiot with an attitude walked by. They hated him and he hated them and somehow it ended up this way, with everyone gone.”

The Hate List was Nick and Val’s pet project - a way for them to vent. Valerie started it. But she thought it was just a coping thing for them, not something that Nick would actually take seriously.

However, Valerie was also the one who stopped the shooting, and got shot in the leg in the process.

So to some people, she’s the hero who ended the shooting. To other people, it’s her fault that all of it happened.

The character conflict was so so amazing. As the reader, you can see Val’s guilt and pain over the shooting. But you also get her anger and frustration. She’s dealing with the question of whether or not she really wanted the shooting to happen, whether it’s her fault, and why she didn’t see it coming from her own boyfriend. It's agonizing and deep.

Valerie was such a complex character, and I could really empathize with her emotions and thoughts. Her personality was so real and understandable.

Nick...I don’t know what I thought about Nick. I think for me, there’s naturally this feeling that he’s a “bad” character, because of the shooting, but we also get his honest side from Valerie’s perspective. Val’s memories show us that the boy who shot his classmates and teachers wasn’t the boy she fell in love with, and I think that was pulled off so well. Valerie still loved Nick, even after the shooting, because the Nick she loved wasn’t the one who shot her, and I think that was extremely important. A lot of the time, the shooter is just the bad guy -period, that’s it, nothing else. He’s just evil. And that’s how we feel about the real-life shooters too. I think a lot of people don’t want to sympathize with them, and that makes sense, but it’s important to understand that they are also people (not that that justifies anything about what they did).

“Of course Ma would have wanted Nick remembered as a “Beloved Son.” Of course she’d do it in the most laid-back way possible—whispering it to him in tiny letters on his headstone. Just a whisper. ‘You were beloved, son. You were my beloved. Even after all of this, I still remember the beloved you. I can’t forget.’ ”

Jessica - I loved how she started out as basically a walking stereotype and slowly became more fleshed-out and human. I didn’t love her, but her character was so compelling.

Dr. Hieler was amazing. I think he was definitely the perfect therapist that Valerie needed, and even though he wasn’t really developed a lot, his character was still really important and just someone I wish I knew in real life.

“Life isn’t fair. A fair’s a place where you eat corn dogs and ride the Ferris wheel.”
“I hate it when you say that.”
“So do my kids.”

Bea was so much fun. I loved her. She was basically the definition of an eccentric-artist type of character, and she delivered on both counts. She’s the kind of person that you basically never meet but desperately wish you could. Bea was the light point in this book, out of a traumatized cast of characters.

“One’s my favorite number,” Bea giggled. “The word won being the past tense of win, and we can all say at the end of the day that we’ve won once again, can’t we? Some days making it to the end of the day is quite the victory.”

The writing was definitely really good, especially since it’s a little bit more flowery/expressive than you would expect from this kind of gritty contemporary book. It delivered imagery, emotion and perspective so well.

“I wanted to know what kind of spill would look so glorious, so shiny. Spills are usually ugly and messy, not beautiful.”

This book made me so emotional. It went so deep into loss and mental health and survivor’s guilt that it just punched me in the face. I am a sucker for books that make me miserable in the best way, and Hate List did that. The chaos of the shooting was conveyed so well that I felt disoriented and terrified. The grief hit me in the face repeatedly. The guilt made me hurt.

The messages that this book carried were so raw and real, and the sad thing is that everything about this book - the characters, the events, the pain and the themes - all apply today, twelve years after the book was written. Literally nothing has changed, and it’s sad.

“People hate. That’s our reality. People hate and are hated and carry grudges and want punishments.”

Just...the way this book dealt with revenge, guilt, and bullying was so harsh and painful, but also amazing at the same time. It wasn’t so much about “closure” and “healing from grief” the way a lot of books are - it was more about just facing what happened. It wasn’t a healing arc more than a raw narrative of how fractured everything is after a tragedy.

I’ll admit that this book was slightly dark. There were so many low points and toxic relationships and moments that just made me want to scream and punch something. But that was realistic, too. I’ve seen shit like that happen in real life, and I hate it, but the way this book covered that and made it so personal and relatable was just so good.

The way things fell apart on the page was exactly the way it made me feel.

Val’s family was so tangled and her school life had so many problems, and all the mental health and the secrets and the trust issues and the low points that Valerie hit just physically hurt me. And since I’m masochistic like that, I reread this book over and over.

In a way, Nick had been right: 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.”

Literally the way this book dealt with people’s opinions and judgement was so powerful and it addressed so many things that I hadn’t even thought about. The preconceived stereotypes of classmates and the way people will automatically label others was a strong influence in this book.

“I hear people talking when I’m out in public all the time and when they think I can’t hear them they always go, ‘That’s such a shame. She was a pretty girl.’ Was. Like a thing of the past, you know? And it’s not like being pretty is the most important thing in the world. But…” she trailed off again, but she didn’t need to finish the sentence. I knew what she was thinking: Being pretty isn’t everything, but sometimes being ugly is.”

Overall, only read this book if you are ready to deal with some very heavy, tension-inducing topics. It’s not a cute, happy read. It’s emotional and harsh and very painful. It's something to cry about and scream over and curl up in the corner because it's so true and so real and so wrong that it physically and spiritually aches. But it’s so worth it.
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,115 followers
June 27, 2013
What a disappointing book. GAH. I'm so mad.

Whiny heroine, whiny parents, whiny brother, whiny friends. I just can't stand it. And why is she trying to force the idea that Nick was still a good guy even if he shot and killed several people? Don't fucking make excuses for him. Ugh.

I mean seriously, the dad threatened to disown the girl! The mom told her outright that she ruined her life for simply loving the wrong guy. She wasn't even the criminal and yet her family treats her like one. What kind of parents are these? And the heroine didn't report them to the police or to a social worker or something, to how they are treating her? If my parents acted like this, I'd be running away. Nobody deserves that kind of crap, especially from people who should automatically be by your side through thick and thin. I couldn't believe how extreme they were written. Not cool. I was very uncomfortable.

Aside from that, the constant wallowing in self-pity was too exhausting. Not recommending this.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,893 followers
October 12, 2009
Three words: Powerful, thought-provoking, & riveting.

The story initially jumps between the actual shooting in May and then following September when, Valerie is preparing to head back to school. Then it focuses on Valerie's senior year and the after math of the shooting itself. It's also laced with newspaper articles throughout the first half or so. These aspects really added a certain dynamic to the novel, and made it one that particularly stands out in my mind.

The narrative of this novel is so very compelling. It's definitely more of a character driven novel than plot driven, but for this particular situation it works really well. Valerie's guilt is depicted in a very realistic way, her struggle with her own identity, and her struggle to truly understand her feelings for Nick. It's just heartbreaking.

This is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed and explored.

A fantastically written, character driven novel, that you will not soon forget.
June 4, 2021

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I've read several books by Jennifer Brown and so far, none of them have come close to reaching the sheer magnificence of the HATE LIST. I thought I had read it as a teenager, but it seems like I actually read it for the first time in my early twenties. Even so, I'm still including it on the list of my rereading project, which consists of books I loved when I was a young woman that I'm checking out again as a full grown adult.

HATE LIST is about Valerie, who is the survivor of a school shooting. She's also the girlfriend of the shooter, who killed himself after shooting several of their classmates and teachers dead. Valerie stopped the bullet from hitting one of her enemies, Jessica, before she was shot herself and is grappling with survivor's guilt... and guilt-guilt as well. Because the people Nick killed came from a notebook she kept called the Hate List, which is where she kept a log of all the people who bullied her and her boyfriend.

I know that some people are going to take issue with this book for the premise alone, which is about the perspective of a shooting from someone who is partially responsible (or is perceived to be that way). But Valerie didn't wield the gun and she didn't know what her boyfriend was going to do, and plenty of us have said things about others in private or among friends ("oh, I could just KILL her") that could make us look guilty if that person suddenly dropped dead. Her relationship with Nick was toxic and their depression became the bond between the two of them, and even though Valerie could sense him drifting away and going down a darker path, she didn't necessarily realize just how violent that path would become.

Personally, I don't think that HATE LIST makes apologies for school shooters. Valerie's story is a story of healing as she comes to terms with her own guilt and also that her boyfriend did a truly horrible thing. It's about putting a human face to the violence that occurs on both sides of a shooting, which I don't think a lot of people do, and addresses a lot of different subjects in a complex and interesting way. Valerie's family dynamic was heartbreaking and shows how parents can sometimes struggle to reconcile their own desires with what is best for their kids. The bullying Nick and Valerie received at school was actually pretty similar to what I faced in high school myself, and I, too, was depressed and filled with powerless fury over it. The aftermath and the students' reactions-- both to what happened and also to Valerie, once she makes the choice to return-- felt very realistic. I also liked that therapy played such a prevalent and positive role in the book and in Valerie's recovery.

This was just a really great, really emotional, really real book-- and I really enjoyed it. (And yes, the ending made me tear up.)

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Read with Sandee ・❥・.
645 reviews1,298 followers
December 4, 2014
This book reminded me of the song “Pumped-up Kicks” by Foster the People. It goes something like this:

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

In the song, the shooter’s name was Robert while the guy in this book was named Nick.

Nick was not a violent person.
At first glance, you won’t even think of him as the guy who could do something like this.
He was a hopeless romantic.

But what pushed Nick to kill those students?


I never experienced bullying when I was in high school so I couldn’t really related to how Nick and Valerie felt.
I felt for them though.
I hate it when other people think they’re better than anyone else.

Nick and Valerie were one of the bullied ones.
Valerie showed Nick her hate list and it became some sort of their favorite pastime, bully-bashing behind their back.
Then one day, Nick came to school with a gun and killed the people on the list along with others unsuspecting students.
Val felt guilty because she felt that she had a hand on it somewhere even when she didn’t really give him the idea of that massive shooting.
She stopped him but still people talked.
They all think she had something to do with it, including her parent (which sucks!).

The Hate List was one of those books that would open your eyes to the reality of life.
Like the other books I’ve read (Forbidden and But I love him), this book was something I would not forget anytime soon.
It was emotional and very real.
The book actually started after the incidents with little snippets of news about what happened during the shooting.
I was just a little disappointed that the characters lack back stories.
Although, I liked the concept, I didn’t really like how it was executed.
It was as if there was no other characters there than Valerie.
Everything focused on her.
I wanted to know more about Nick and what really pushed him to the edge.
Lack of character depth was acceptable but what I didn’t find acceptable was Valerie’s parents.
They were completely unfair.
They should have understood what she was going through not the other way.
They suck at parenting.
They let down their own daughter.
They should have believed her because she is their daughter.
Her own parent doesn’t even believe her and I think that must have been hard for Val.
I felt sympathy for Val and Nick.
They were victims here too just like the people Nick killed.
I am not saying that what Nick did was correct but what those bullies did to him was not correct either.
It wasn’t really clear what really caused Nick’s decision of really killing them because it was never really mentioned.
Not much about Nick was showed her which upset me a bit.
I wanted to know more about him.

Anyways, it was a good attempt.
It was very light despite the sensitivity of the topic.
It was depressing yes but what can I say, it happens.
Bullying happens.
There are a lot of unloving parents out there too.

I think the main lesson of this book is to respect one another.
We have to respect other people even if they are inferior to you.
There was this line from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that I love so much and I think it would fit the moral lesson of the story.

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Need I say more?!

I give this book 3.5 stars! :D
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
June 18, 2019
People do it all the time– assume that they know what's going on in someone else's head. That impossible. And to think it's possible is a really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you're not careful.

The Hate List is about perception - how we can look at someone and see them as all bad or all good when they have tons beneath. Valerie perceived her boyfriend, Nick, as good – before he shot up their school. And everyone sees Valerie as bad, except for Jessica, the girl whose life Valerie saved.

This didn't feel like a transparent attempt at starting Important Conversations On School Shootings. In fact, as the author says herself, this book isn't about school shootings and trending topics.
I'll bet if you asked ten readers what Hate List was about, they'd say a school shooting. But for me, Hate List was never about a school shooting. This was always Valerie's story. -Jennifer Brown

True to the author's intent, Valerie's story is truly what makes this book stand out. She feels guilty for her role in what happened, however small, but she's not perfect. She still hates some of these people and she misses the one guy who made her feel happy, even though he was a monster. Her character arc is one of the most solid I've read in contemporary fiction.

I also want to give this book a shoutout for a great representation of ptsd and an actually helpful counselor, which - at the point I read this book - I literally think I had never seen in a book before. As someone who sees a therapist, and has an excellent relationship with said therapist (especially now, with a new one) I think it's important to show audiences that therapy, with the right person, is actually a deeply positive thing.

Jessica and Valerie's relationship is maybe my favorite part of this entire book. The focus on platonic friendship as a way of healing rather than a romantic relationship really improved this book. So many books feel the need to insert a guy who can "teach the girl to love again", and in this case, I loved that Val just needed a friend.

VERDICT: The Hate List is an amazing, character-driven exploration of overcoming trauma that avoids the normal narratives of ~recovery boys~ in favor of friendship and primary agency to women. Definitely recommended.

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Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
231 reviews476 followers
August 8, 2016
If you are a student, then it is highly likely that you know about the constant fear of someone running on a killing spree in your school building or your university. If not, then at least you probably have relatives or friends who could potentially be involved in such a tragedy, just as everyone can possibly become a victim to such a horrifying scenario. That's what this book is about: the way an entire school deals with a killing spree after Nick Levil opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing several students and himself. I am not that well-informed about the circumstances in different countries, but here in Germany, tragedies like these have accompanied people for years, especially after the well-known and widely dreaded shooting sprees of Erfurt (2002), Emsdetten (2006) and Winnenden (2009). Emergency plans are now hanging on the doors of each classroom and instructions are given how to behave in such a case at the beginning of every schoolyear.

But past events and the severe lack of security measures tell another story: that it would be easy for almost everyone to walk into a classroom or a lecture hall and kill at least ten people by random before someone can stop the killer. This is something which can never be truly predicted or prevented, not even with huge prevention activites (which, of course, cannot be found here at the moment). And this fear or becoming victim to such a tragedy as well as the aftermaths of it are what Hate List by Jennifer Brown deals with.

Killing sprees are a serious topic which now and then invades the headlines and causes serious upheaval among the population. What makes it such a fascinating topic for an author to explore? It's the way they can't be predicted. Which thoughts have to run through the mind of a young person before walking through his or her school and killing dozens of people? How can such a deed be motivated? Why is it that nobody, not the parents, nor the friends, nor the girlfriend, ever sensed that something could happen?

In this book, Valerie Leftman, the first-person narrator, is introduced as the girlfriend of the boy who killed those innocent people. While in their relationship, Nick was sweet, loving and caring, even though Valerie knew that he had some contacts to the wrong friends. In addition to that, Nick and Valerie, both considering themselves to be outsiders in their school, created a Hate List with the names of people they hate. And when Nick begins the shooting, those persons whose names appear on that list are chosen by him explicitly to be killed before finally he can be stopped, leading him to kill himself. When the book begins, five months have passed, and Valerie has to return to her school again. Everyone considers her to be the girlfriend of that killer, some even accuse her of having known about his plans, and nothing is going to make it easy for Valerie at her school.

The social issue weighed heavily into this book, but apart from that, Valerie felt like a typical seventeen-year-old teenager to me, portrayed with almost the same character traits as all the other seventeen-year-old female protagonists in all those Young Adult novels out there. Her character had nothing special surrounding her, except for the constant self-pitying and selfishness. Her father was portrayed in a way which could not have been more negative, a way which is sadly too often occuring in reality. Her mother was portrayed in a way mothers shouldn't be portrayed, and the only character who sticked out to me as being interesting was Nick Levil, the perpetrator, for the mere fact that nobody suspected anything before he went on his killing spree. The most enthralling part of this novel was the way the author dealt with Nick's complicated mind; after all, what could turn a guy who reads Shakespeare for fun and has a (relatively) healthy social life into a killer?

In the end, the premise convinced me most in this novel, while the characters fell flat for me and the plot balanced on a constant middle course between boring and interesting. However, it is possible that this novel was just a case of "it's me, not you", so I will recommend reading Anne's fantastic review and let yourself be convinced that this book deserves to be checked out.
January 1, 2020
4.5 stars

It's been five months. Five months since that tragic day. That day when Nick decides to open fire on his school cafeteria killing those who were on the Hate List. That list, which was written by him and his girlfriend Valerie, classified all those that used to torment them both during the school day. Students, bullies, teachers, popular kids... several of them were shot by Nick until Valerie tries to stop the slaughter, inadvertently saves a classmate and ends up being shot in the leg in the process.

After spending months in the hospital, where she is treated like a potential suspect and being sent to a psychological unit, she is finally sent home to rest and heal. It's now time to return to school to complete her senior year, Valerie realizes that her worst wounds are not physical. She will need to face hate, judgment and guilt.

I really loved how this book was written. I enjoyed both the writing style and the way both the past and the present were alternating. It's a subject that really touches me and I loved how it was handled. It wasn't only about victims and culprits. The Hate List was so layered and so deep, I recommend it to any reader.

Mild spoilers beyond this point:

This book circles about perceptions. How to Valerie, the Hate List was a way to release herself as to Nick it was a list of potential targets. How they were both angry but that in the end, they didn't have the same perception of boundaries. Their perception of limits and retribution weren't on the same scale. And it was what amazed me the most. I think it was also what despaired Valerie the most and what made her denial so hard to overcome. How two persons that close, always talking, sending texts and email to each other all night long, could be such strangers to one another? How could Valerie hadn't seen nor guessed what was happening in Nick's mind?

She was so lost that she ended up isolating herself. She pushed away anyone that came to her, to help her. She rejected her family, her former friends and even classmates. I think that the fact that Nick killed himself made things worse for Valerie. She blamed herself for not seeing it coming. She was angry at everyone including herself. It wasn't really about self-pitying, but more about the fact that she learned that the person she loved the most was a complete stranger and she couldn't ask for an explanation. She needed something, anything from him; a justification, an apology, or even a proof that she couldn't have known. Her whole world collapsed and she lost faith and trust toward her friends and family.
“Just like there's always time for pain, there's always time for healing.”

It takes a long time to Valerie to stop bargaining about what she could have done to prevent the tragedy. To have known better, and to have had some more insight into the slippery slope Nick was caught in. She has an amazing therapist, who is basically the only person she trusts, he helps her dealing with her feelings, her guilt and her depression, to go through the day. To my opinion, when she started to go back to school, it was the beginning of the "going better process". Even though it was really hard for her to be confronted with the school situation, I think she was less dwelling on her misery. However, I understand how difficult it must have been for her to be stared and the object of murmurs and resentment.

The process of acceptance is gradual and well brought. The main being about seeking forgiveness. Our closes ones' as well as our own. The more I read, the more I realized that the most important was not the absolution of those she wronged, but her own acceptance and mercy for herself. To accept that everyone deals with death and loss his or her own way and that it's okay to be mad, it's okay to still love, it's okay to stretch your hand to yesterday's foe and make him your friend.

Profile Image for Anne .
183 reviews261 followers
December 31, 2016

Oh, don't roll your eyes. He IS wise!

People hate. That's our reality. People hate and are hated and carry grudges and want punishments ... I don't know if it's possible to take hate away from people. Not even people like us, who've seen firsthand what hate can do. We're all hurting. We're all going to be hurting for a long time. And we, probably more than anyone else out there, will be searching for a new reality every day. A better one ... But in order to change reality you have to be willing to listen and to learn. And to hear. To actually hear.

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman was implicated in a tragic event that occurred in her high school's cafeteria. Now she has to return to those same halls and people who blame her for the crime which was committed, because Valerie's hate list was what prompted the high school shooting that marked a great change in the lives of the people of her hometown.
Hate List is very nearly an excellent piece of work that dares to be honest, sensitive and consequential in it's themes.
The story is told in present chapters, news reports and articles, flashbacks which take us through Valerie's memories of the day of the shooting, and the days before.

I think this book changed me a bit. Sometimes when I read a story, no matter how invested I am, no matter how integrated I am into it, I imagine the story world is a glass globe, and I'm standing on the outside looking in. They say onlookers see much more than the players. I'm the onlooker, I should have aspired to more insight. But I didn't. I simply couldn't. And I swear I felt bamboozled and was very frustrated, like I was cheated out of my advantage and rightful privilege. I won't lie


I've thought about the realities of this story and I still can't for the life of me understand the science behind them all. But I like this, this state of confutation is magnificent. It shouldn't be easy to assign blame, close the case and call it a day. It's wrong if it's that easy. It's wrong and inadequate. Many times I was angry at how thorough Brown was in exploring and communicating the feelings of the characters because I had no excuse to be lazy in my perceptions.

So like the heading says, this was my very first book on the subject of highschool shooting, and I don't know if that should mean something. But it does, it really does, because in reality I had never thought about the subject and I never imagined I'd read a book on it. But we're readers and we keep circling in and out of orbit, so that's that. One thing that struck me about this story was the mundaneness of it's progression, the casualty of it's fuel source. Think about it. Have you ever made a list - and if not a physical list, a mental one - of things you hated, situations you wished you could take by the neck and wring the life out of, people you wanted gone, hurt, or both? Have you ever been that angry? Have you ever been that acidified? Burning and boiling and raging. And what if someone took that list and turned it into a gross reality. What if they turned your anger into something monstrously real and happening? Well, the answer is simple really.

Valerie started the Hate List that morphed into a target list which her boyfriend, Nick Levil, used to orchestrate an high school shooting. A shooting that left some dead, others hurt - including Valerie who was shot in the leg when she tried to stop the shooting, and Nick with a bullet in his head. Just thinking about this scene alone is dizzying. But the hardest part of the ordeal is the blame assigning. And along with that, the troubles of the aftermath: Dealing with loss and coming back to life after so many deaths, gaining back trust, forgiveness, friends, family and the love of a community that needs to grieve, and demands the comfort of having someone to blame. Those were the hardest parts, going through all those transitions were hard, not just for Valerie, but also for the reader. Because here is the time to doubt your sense of discernment. You're human, you'd love to blame someone too. We follow Valerie's shifts between different personas. Sometimes she's the sad girl and sometimes she's the monster. Sometimes she knows she tried her best and sometimes she's a failure. A hero. A victim. A culprit. An accomplice. It's all she could do to assume all these roles, to bear the burden of the crime she didn't commit, but somehow unconsciously permitted.

And then think about this, the greatest struggle after coming to terms with the deaths: That the boy you loved, a boy you felt one with at some point in your estranged lives could dip his hands into such dirty and dark things, use his hands to commit such an atrocity. How do you reconcile the love you feel with the crime? How do you reconcile your guilt with your role in the crime? Because even though Valerie wasn't aware of Nick's shooting plans, she did a bit more than just start the list, she helped it flourish by making namely contributions. She spewed hate and vented angrily. But she thought she was doing just that - venting. She didn't know Nick was meaning it. Meaning to take it one step further. Meaning for them to be the winners, just once.
“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"

One thing that frustrated the sanity out of me was Nick. Some characters in this book would have you believe that Nick was a genetic waste. Right from the womb, he was meant for trouble. Yes, something wasn't quite right with that boy from the start. But I wonder, is anyone ever born to be a high school shooter? Do some parents just wake up one morning and decide to have a baby that will be named catastrophe and carnage? A baby that will grow so full and tipping with hate and fury that he'd one day take a gun out and kill his school mates and himself? And if this isn't so, when did the poison set in? If he didn't come out bouncy with hate, then what? It all comes down to the time in between, it comes down to society. Society, environment and people. All the systems that mould us, change us, and break us. But you assume you know his mind. You conclude that because he killed, killing was his singular thought. You assume you know because it's easier that way. There's a reason, so logic has prevailed and all is right with the world again. But is it possible to know anyone's mind? To know without doubt all the emotions they're capable of feeling and things they're capable of doing?
"People do it all the time--assume that they "know" what's going on in someone else's head. That's impossible. And to think it's possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you're not careful.”

Don't you wonder about it? How shattered could a person be for them to lose that little bit of humanity that shuns murder and values something as fragile and invaluable as life? It's funny how people never asked the question 'why?' And society in reality is exactly this way. I'm not saying the shooting is right, I'm not trying to downplay the tragedy but there's a cause to the effect. No one really took account of the fact that Nick and Valerie were harassed, abused and bullied day after day, because those are crimes less than murder. Just not bloody and stigmatizing enough to call for jail sentences and get the orange jumpsuits out. But we forget there is no grade to wrongness. I forgot this in the beginning, and every time Valerie tried to convince me of Nick's goodness, convince herself of his humanity, I forgot this - It's wrong because it's wrong. The bullying was wrong, and so was the shooting.

⏩ Versions of Reality.
⏩ Judgement - Valerie and Nick were so frivolous in their judgments. They hardly knew the truth of some people they placed on their list.
⏩ Tragedy.
⏩ Family and parental involvement.
⏩ Forgiveness.
⏩ Media.
⏩ Societal estrangements and constraints
⏩ The world of High school
⏩ Therapy and counseling. No seriously, if you meet the psychiatrist in this book you'll understand what I'm saying. Grateful is the word.
❎ Some people will probably abuse me for this, but I don't blame Valerie's parents for some of their reactions. I believe that it's not easy to be adequate in our reactions sometimes in the face of life changing tragic situations. But we try. We try and we fail. And that's the point of all these characters. But yes, a great big part of me kept wishing that someone would set Valerie's awful father straight... Or crooked.

JK guys. JK.
Something I found really harrowing was how unhealthy Nick and Valerie's relationship was. Sometimes it seemed like it needed hate to thrive. They needed to hate and be angry and spiteful to feel together. To be one in love. Nick and Valerie were odd kids, both alienated by the nature of their individual make-ups and circumstances that were out of their control - Broken families, troubled lives, insensitive peers. And lost knows lost, so they found themselves in each other and became lost together. I don't know honestly. I'm really, truly still doubting my deductions even after weeks following my reading. I'm doubting so much, this is just my two cents I'm putting in. Amidst all that hate, Valerie related moments of innocent love and untainted happiness that did nothing for my confusion. So I've come to the conclusion that their love was very schizophrenic. And yet they found comfort in it. Maybe it was all wrong and sully, but who and what could have saved them both? You understand through Valerie and Nick's relationship that in such a relationship, you could be happy. You could be really happy, but the question is for how long before you crash?
And so I say to you, define Masterpiece.

Because my feelings will never be resolute, "Don't give a damn about your reasons" Nick.
Broken by James Bugg

For Valerie
Scars by Foxes

For Graduation day! Time capsule scene :'(
Quiet In My Town by Civil Twilight



But first I need to find the words.

Review to come when I'm less...

Words. Give. Me. Words.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,035 reviews55 followers
January 9, 2010
Hate List is one of those rare finds that leaves you completely stunned and quite literally sends your emotions running around in circles.

As I was reading Hate List I found myself on the edge of my seat wanting to know more about everything in the book. I really loved Valerie as a character, I found myself feeling so bad for her. I hated the way that almost everyone treated her. I think that in a way I found Valerie to be so relatable was because she had flaws and she wasn't perfect, she was a typical girl.
I loved how Jennifer Brown put together the novel with the main story but also some newspaper articles about the incident. It all tied nicely together and created one very good book.

The ending was incredibly emotional and I felt tears prickling in my eyes as I was reading it.
Hate List brings up some very interesting issues and I found it amazing to read how sometimes the smallest little things can escalate into something that becomes out of control. I was also surprised about how sometimes people say things without thinking and then later these little things can become huge.

I feel like I could go on forever about how much I loved Hate List. But I think if I did that there would be no point in anyone who reads this to read the book. So I will stop here and say that if you have not read Hate List then you definitely need to. It is a must-read!
Profile Image for Paulo Ratz.
185 reviews4,932 followers
September 22, 2017
Esse livro me prendeu do início ao fim. Que situação complicadaaaaa que essa protagonista vive. Eu ficava o tempo todo me colocando no lugar dela e no lugar das pessoas em volta e não conseguia decidir o que sentia. A Jennifer conseguiu uma coisa muito difícil que é ser cruel com a protagonista sem reservas. Eu ficava com pena da garota o tempo todo, porém via que era bem realista a forma que tudo era tratado. Acho que na vida real seria até pior.
Minha única questão com esse livro é que eu fiquei TÃO puto com os pais dessa menina, e acho que o livro acaba sem eles levarem um tapa forte na cara, que é o que eles mereciam. Todo mundo foi tão nojento com ela e a garota só pedindo desculpa o tempo todo e sendo escurraçada. EU QUERO UMA REDENÇÃO MAIOR.
Porém confesso que terminei chorando.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,872 reviews1,055 followers
April 3, 2014
Initial reaction: There aren't a lot of books that make me cry. This one made me teary eyed in places.

It's a book that covers many difficult subjects and emotions, and there are definitely a lot of times where Valerie was a difficult character to follow, but man - her emotions, experiences - all felt very genuine and real to me.

Val's parents were horrible.

Listened to this via audiobook, beautifully narrated.

Full review:

Oh man, how on earth do I write a review on Jennifer Brown's "Hate List?" Honestly have no idea what took me so long to read this book. I really do enjoy books that challenge the way that I think about tough subjects and delve into the matter with such an intimate perspective and character growth arc. This book was no different.

But reading "Hate List" hurt. I'm not going to mince words about it, this hit me in a place I wasn't expecting to be hit at all. (Weird that I'm writing this review shortly after watching a Criminal Minds episode where the anniversary of a school shooting took place.) The journey was such an emotionally sharp one, holding me in a vice-like grip and not letting go until I listened to the last minute. I'll admit I actually wept during parts of this because it hit me that much.

This is the story of a girl named Valerie whose boyfriend (Nick) was the center of a mass school shooting that left several students dead or permanently scarred (mentally and physically), her being shot in the leg, and ultimately him turning the gun on himself. I'll admit if there was one flaw that I could name in the duration of this narrative right off the bat, there's a bit of a run around in the timeline for events, but it makes sense as the book moves forward because it's dealing with Valerie's (Val's) recall and rollercoaster of grief. When we meet her, she's not the most likable person to follow. She's between these PTSD states as she attempts to return to school for the first time in months after the shooting.

Suffice to say, people are not happy to see her, not just for the fact that her former boyfriend was the shooter, but he targeted people based on a list of people she made - those that either tormented them or hung in the same circles as those people. So Val's having PTSD from not just the shooting itself, but for her role in events with it, even for inadvertently saving the life of a fellow classmate in trying to stop Nick from shooting anyone else. The narrative takes the reader through not just the event, but for Val's reminiscence of her relationship with Nick and the conflicting emotions she feels in not being able to understand the divide between her good memories with him, his distancing, and the consequences of what he did.

Watching Val go through therapy and the conflict of emotions in that process really hit home with me. I found it so realistic, especially with the strong performance of the audio narrator, Kathleen McInerney. Val has to not only come to terms with what happened in the past, but deal with the changes in her relationships at school - as well as at home. Val had a very unstable home and school life, between being bullied, her parents on the verge of divorce, and Nick drawing further and further away in the time before the shooting occurred. Once Val's recollection of the event and the direct aftermath of her recovery is covered, Val's process of moving forward is showcased through her developing relationships and "seeing what's really there" among both the adults in her community and her peers within the student body. It really struck me to see how much Val grew and came to terms with it all - and the ending punctuated an emotional journey which culminated with Val's graduating class.

I didn't always like the surrounding cast of characters (seriously, Val's parents made me angry in this book - I couldn't believe the way they treated their daughter, but I had the understanding that they were grieving and had their respective flaws. That understanding was what got me through some of the tougher places of the narrative. It's dramatic, but palpable.). I LOVED Dr. Heiler's character - he really came through as an outstanding character not just in Val's recovery, but in his own person as well for support in a community that's still trying to pick up the pieces for the event. Jessica was also a very surprising character with the way she came across. Val inadvertently saved her life, but Jessica becomes more than just the "mean girl" character that she's purported to be at first. The event changes her, much like the student body, and she has a push/pull relationship with Val which becomes a stronger bond as the two relate with each other.

Definitely a recommended read, and especially in its audio format. I loved this book and name it as a new favorite. Will definitely be reading more of Jennifer Brown's work in the future.

Overall score: 4.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Heather.
293 reviews13.9k followers
October 18, 2016
What can I say about Hate List that could ever do it justice? This book was eerie. I connected to it on such a personal level that it sort of freaked me out. I’m really hoping that this fact is due to the talent of Jennifer Brown. For once, I can truly say that I have found a writer that can tap into what it really feels like to be a teenager, an honest to goodness, authentic teen. Not the nice goodie two shoes we so often read about, not the one’s who cuss, sneak off with boys and fight with their parents, all the while possessing an adult-like intelligence and perspective on their life choices that far surpasses their years. Nope, Brown has created a real live teenager, and while the image isn’t pretty, I thought it was beautiful.

Valerie is an outcast, dreading the impending doom that is synonymous with the start of a new school year. Lucky for Valerie, this is her last. Her senior year is about to commence. But Valerie is petrified to return. The school, which was never one to house happy memories is now fraught with feelings of regret, terror, guilt and death. Valerie hasn’t walked into the commons since last May, on that fateful day that ended lives, including the life of her boyfriend, Nick. To some, Valerie is a hero, a girl who stopped a crazed gunman, even though that gunman was her boyfriend, someone she loved. But to many others, Valerie is nothing more than Sister Death, a girl with dyed hair and cut up jeans, a girl they enjoyed tormenting, a girl who co-authored the hate list that inspired a troubled teen to seek vengeance for them both.

Frankly, this book is brilliant. It doesn’t sugar coat teenagedom, or life for that matter. There is hate in this world, and all sorts of actions that illicit this hate. There are bad people in this world and they come in a variety of forms. How many of us have delivered a snide comment in jest, or to illicit a laugh from our friends, not meaning and true harm to anyone? I’m sure all of us would raise our hands if we were being honest. But how would you feel if that comment caused someone true emotional pain? Would you continue with your words, or would that knowledge give you pause? And what of those people who think nothing of tormenting others, who wouldn’t stop their hurtful actions once they were made aware of the harm they were causing, do they deserve punishment for inflicting pain without conscience?

In my opinion, no one in this book is innocent, and no one is truly wretched. Not even Nick. Hate List is filled with a host of authentic characters. There’s no bow to be tied around the end, no happy ending. It’s a story about life with all its joys and sorrows, trials, tribulations and unexpectancies. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but loath two characters, but it wasn’t who I was expecting to dislike. Valerie’s parents are utter failures. Such people shouldn’t be allowed to spawn children. Yes they are successful, yes they provide Valerie with every material item that she could want or need, but they failed her in every way that mattered. I can’t help but think that the real individuals to blame for the tragedy within this book are the parents. Parents who don’t see the pain within their children, or the evil that they can posses. Worse, her parents go on to blame her for their own failures, which is simply disgusting. If anyone reading this review belongs to parents such as these, I’m sorry.

Nevertheless, in spite of its somber tone, Hate List is an inspiring, and dare I say hopeful book. It certainly serves as a beacon of truth. Valerie is a normal girl, her feelings are natural, and while she may have been extreme at times, this too was natural. Who hasn’t. I can only pray that those who read this book will be as touched as I was and perhaps have little more understanding for those around us.
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
481 reviews2,993 followers
January 4, 2020
CW: school shooting, depression, suicide

This book was a mess. Not really sure why it has such high ratings. A school shooting is an important and relevant topic to write about, but it just wasn't enough to carry the story. The writing and characters just were not very good. The way that the adults in Valerie's life treated her was just absurd. I was not impressed.
Profile Image for Maede.
275 reviews397 followers
November 17, 2016
همه چیز از یک اتفاق وحشتناک شروع میشه. یک روز معمولی در مدرسه "نیک" دوست پسر "ولری" اسلحه ای در میاره و شروع می کنه به شلیک کردن. همه ی نفرتی که در وجودش هست خون میشه و مدرسه رو قرمز می کنه. ولری عاشق نیک بود. چطور نمی دونست چنین اتفاقی قرار بود بیوفته؟ یا شاید می دونسته؟
ولری هم از اون آدم ها متنفر بود، یعنی واقعاً می خواست که بمیرند؟
ولری هیچ چیز نمی دونه

زمان در زندگیش متوقف شده، گذشته مبهمه، نامطمئن، هر چیز که می دونسته اشتباه بوده. حال زجرآوره و آینده ناموجود
این کتاب برعکس شروع میشه. مهم ترین حادثه اتفاق افتاده و ما با شوک بعد از اون شروع می کنیم, با تغییر هایی که این حادثه بزرگ ایجاد می کنه. زندگی بعد از اتفاق همیشه از خودش سخت تره

ولری خودش رو گم کرده و چقدر دوست داشتنی بود همراه شدن باهاش در این مسیر تا خودش رو پیدا کنه. دنیاش رو دوباره نگاه کنه. به سختی راهش رو به سمت "ولری جدید" باز کنه. چیزی که راجع به این کتاب دو��ت داشتم این بود که تغییرات با جملات سنگین و بزرگ نشان داده نمی شد. فقط اتفاق های جزیی تغییرات رو نشون میده دادند یا ایجاد می کردند. درست مثل اتفاقی که در زندگی واقعی اتفاق میوفته، تغییرات لحظه ای و الهام گونه نیست
مثل وقتی که ولری تصمیم گرفت ناخن هاش رو صورتی لاک بزنه به جای سیاه همیشگی. که نشون داد تصمیم گرفته تعصبات روی رفتار های گذشته رو رها کنه

به شدت دوست داشتم این کتاب رو در حدی که نصفش رو یک شبه خوندم. و برام جالب بود که می دونستم اتفاق عجیبی در انتظارم نیست، فقط می خواستم بدونم که ولری چکار می کنه؟ چطور از پس زندگی آشفته و خانواده از هم پاشیده و خاطره عشق مرده ای که همه قاتل و بی رحم می شناسندش بر میاد

هیچ چیز زندگی ولری به من شبیه نیست، ولی من رفتن مسیر سخت بین ولری قدیم به جدید رو خوب درک می کنم. چیزهایی که در این بین از دست میره و چیزهایی که به دست میاد

Profile Image for Aly (Fantasy4eva).
240 reviews120 followers
October 9, 2011
With the electricity gone for a good two days and a mere candle to acompany me in a restless night, I spotted HATE LIST which I had purchased well over a year ago. I ignored it really, maybe because I knew it would be a conflicting read.

With HATE LIST I went through an array of emotions. There were the good parts, the bad and the in - between bits. For the most part, I spent the majority of the novel seriously pissed.

I made some notes in my diary for the first time actually. They are on the rough side, and spur of the moment thoughts, but they are pretty accurate to what I picked up and felt at the time.

Let's cut to the chase.

Valerie' parents are pretty disgraceful. Her mother is apparently protecting the world from her monster of a daughter and her father is pretty much disgusted by her. Making it clear that he can never forgive her - when it's that SOB that is a shitty father. Can you tell that I really dislike him?

I liked how the author showed another side to Nick. To some he was the villain, a killer, whilst through Valerie' and Ginny' eyes we saw that there was also this angry young man who had lived a tough life, struggled with who he was, and was bullied by people who just pushed him to the edge. He was sensitive, loved Shakespeare and was a terrible romantic. These are things people do not want to know when something like this happens. That something contributed to what may have happened, that the victims might have something to do with it, and that this boy who killed - was also a victim. I think it's important to know that though.

Having witnessed my fair share of bullying I noticed that a lot in the novel was black and white. The popular kids were the bullies, and, of course - very good looking whilst the losers were grungy, weird and unattractive. I think when you're handling such a heavy handed topic it's important to stay true as possible and not let your characters fall into stereotypes. In fact, I think it's one of the worst things you can do. *Or maybe they were in the authors experience, and if so, I can then understand * Personally, I learned a long time ago that not all bullies are bullies because they are popular or pretty. Some are bullies just because they can be, because they enjoy being mean. There's no particular trait or appearance that can determine that.

Valerie was many things. A friend, lover, selfish and brave. Selfish being a big trait of hers. I didn't know how to handle her throughout the book. At times her foolishness grated on me and other times I felt for her. Duce is right when he says that it was all about her. She never considered how others that loved Nick would be feeling. Yes she's self centred and tough to like, but I couldn't completely hate her. With parents like hers, I think she's incredibly brave to hold out for as long as she did. She walked into the that school, she admitted whatever part she may have played and did the best she could. I have to take that into account. I admire that about her. I don't blame her for what happened. She may have created THE HATE LIST that her boyfriend used to kill people, but without the list he would have done it anyway. So I'm not going to sit here and accuse her of anything because it simply wasn't her fault.

The girl was really stupid at times. The both of them wished some pretty gruesome things upon their classmates. They went a bit too far, and although Valerie wasn't all that serious, it was apparent that Nick was. To me it seemed that bitching about their classmates was almost a hobby for them. It was something that had brought them together - this mutual hate for others, but eventually it seemed Valerie just went along with the bitching because it bought them closer together. This was her mistake. Getting carried away for the wrong reasons. If it's something like this that's makes you feel close and connected to your boyfriend then something is clearly wrong.

When I first started the book I put it down and considered leaving it for a while, but it was when I picked it back up, read a few more pages that I found myself really immersed.

JIMMY! Major let down here. We are introduced to all these characters that knew Nick and our MC, but the guy that Nick had been spending more and more time with in those last few months, the guy that had changed Nick, was actually never seen. We never knew if he had something to do with it or what his thoughts were on this whole thing. I thought that was a total cop - out and it really annoyed me.

Lack of depth when it came to a lot of characters. There is Troy, Ginny, Stacey, Josh, Mason, Jessica and David. All these are connected to our MC somehow, but we know practically nothing about them. Jessica bullied Valerie, but now ironically reaches out to her because our MC saved her life. Stacey, David, Mason and Duce used to be her friend's once - until she pushed them away, so now they all blank her. This I found iffy. Sure she was being selfish, but it's silly to me that after all they have been through, and since they were genuine friends, that they would hold such a grudge against her. I don't know what to think of that. But we do get a hint of how they feel. Like when Duce sees her at the graveyard. There is a glimpse there of how her ex - friends were affected but it's brief and simply not enough. There were so many important characters in my opinion, like Duce, Stacey and Josh that should be been explored more.

Valerie' brother Frankie is an interesting one. The nice kid who goes to church and is popular with the ladies. He's been supportive and sweet throughout it all, but the boy is obviously harbouring some mixed feelings. Valerie actually acknowledges that he's been neglected by her parents since they are focusing on her but actually does nothing about it. But then again our MC selfishness was very clear to me from the start.

Bea anyone? Amazing women. Once again - very mysterious, but I'm ok with that when it comes to her. She's supportive and seems to understand Valerie more than her parents do, and this goes the same for DR. Hieler. That man is incredible and obviously amazing at what he does. He clearly really helps Valerie pull through when she is struggling most.

I just finished listening to "If Everyone Cared" By Nickelback - the actual song that inspired the author to write the book. Wow. Amazing. Beautiful, and makes me see the book in a different light. There are things that I will probably always be conflicted on when it comes to the book, but as someone who came from a school filled with bullying I get it. I get HATE LIST, I get why Valerie hated those that she did - even after they died. I get her, I get Nick. I really do and it's from experience that I get HATE LIST. I can see teenagers, bullied victims - really soaking in this book. Tearing up and just bawling when it all comes rushing back - and it's here that I give the author her due. It's angry, raw and gritty but perhaps so becuase the author was able to write from experience. It made it achingly realistic at times.

As simple as this may be, as frustrating. When I think of Nick and Valerie - I think kids, and I think immaturity. I think of that mashing with misery and anger and see a whole lot of destruction. It's not about evil, the bad or good in my opinion. It's about kids who were immature, confused and hurt, and about a boy who was all of that and let all these emotions get the better of him. But I suppose, one doesn't like to think that it's things like immaturity that may be the cause, but sometimes I think it's important to see it for what it is. However hurtful it may be.

I can't rate this book though. Too personal, too many conflicted thoughts, and no rating would seem fair or quite right to be honest. So I'll leave the review to let you form your own opinion and to help you decide if this book is for you.
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews778 followers
December 4, 2013
“Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.” ― Honoré de Balzac


Some article some where said that this was one of those 'must read' young adult books. I didn't really read into it to see why. The title sort of piqued my interest. Who didn't have a hate list? Right?

My 25th high school reunion was 2 days ago. I found this out because a couple of friends from middle school had facebooked me and I saw a few posts about partying it up with the class of 1988. I admit, I was interested. I looked at their photos. I looked at some of the profiles of people that made my life hell. (I have that stalker thing going on.) I have that need to see if these people are miserable. I still ( still) want them to be miserable. I guess I haven't grown, much.

I recently finished Margaret Atwood's beautifully written book dealing with bullying, Cat's Eye, and found myself too wound up to actually write a review. Too emotional, too full. I then read karen'sreview and thought that she summed it up pretty well. There is a hollow that comes from those scars.. it changes you even when you are not sure how or why.

Now I find that I can't escape this topic. I have a daughter in middle school. I see her suffer from those hateful little beasts day in and day out. I want to shield her, I want to pummel them. I want to tell her it will be okay, but I know that it will not, because here I am, living proof, that it is not.

Do you really ever get over bullying? Does the Hate List ever get dismissed?

It's been 25 years since I left the hell of high school social life and I still have the scar tissue.. tender even.... I finished this book within 24 hours and while I read the words, the images that formed were not of Val and Nick and Jessica and Christy, but of my own demons. Of the Twissas, and Dereks, and Sues that I see posing in photo booth pictures at the reunion acting like this was such a great time in their lives. Sure, maybe it was. Maybe they've blocked out the horrible things that they did, the horrible people that they were and chocked it up to youth. Fuck them, I say. I'm not ready to get over it.

This book wasn't outstanding, but it did have some interesting messages.... How the media represents the 'healing process' of the schools after such a massacre. How very Columbine it was (although we've experienced too many such massacres since, Columbine is the one that always comes to my mind) How schools come together after a tragedy. Right. Sure it does.

"People hate. That's our reality. People hate and are hated and carry grudges and want punishments.

The news tells us that hate is no longer our reality.

I don't know if it's possible to take hate away from people. Not even people like us, who've seen firsthand what hate can do. We're all hurting. We're all going to be hurting for a long time. And we, probably more than anyone else out there, will be searching for a new reality every day. A better one."

The cynical part of me says 'Good luck with that.' I can't see a better reality for people who carry that grudge. I can tell you that I am not a good enough person to say that after 25 years I didn't see all the same faces as I read through this book, that I didn't sympathize with the killer. Maybe it was the reunion that brought that out in me... but I didn't feel anything but the old resentments surface.

I'm afraid to face my 12 year old today. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to lie and tell her that it goes away. My words will sound hollow and will drift (much like this review has). This makes me sadder than you will ever know.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,470 followers
March 4, 2012
Hate List is a YA novel about the aftermath of a school shooting. Okay, you do get the pre-math and the math itself, a little bit, but 90% is about the aftermath. I don't read YA novels because I'm an A and no longer Y but I read this one because life is pretty random, just like school shootings. One here, one there, who knows where the next one will be? All you know is, there will be a next one.

This is an anguished tale told in the voice of 16 or 17 year old Valerie, and she went out with this lovely guy called Nick for three years, since she was 14 or 15 I guess, but he figured it was time for a crime like Columbine and he terminated their relationship by shooting a lot of their schoolmates, one teacher, Valerie herself, and then himself. After that, there was no possibility of a reconciliation. Some things can't be unsaid.

This book follows the complicated and frankly horrendous emotional, physical, familial and of course psychological fallout from the shooting. For instance, most of the school thinks Valerie was in cahoots with Nick, after all, she was his girlfriend and she wrote the famous hate List which is exposed to all by the police. But some think no, on the day of the massacre she was trying to stop him. It gets messy and depressing and I confess there were big globby tears in my eyes as I read the final scenes, which I had to surreptitiously wipe away in case my daughter spotted me as she was in the room, but I think I got away with it.

Yes there were a few things to complain about – for instance, Jennifer Brown, you need to check your head – please never again call your characters stupid names like Dr. Hieler (!) - and the shooting boyfriend is Nick Levil !! Give me a break. Also, but this is probably only a reflection of reality, if you took three words out of the conversations in this book, it would be 50 pages shorter – can you guess the words? Yes – cool, lame, and totally.

Our narrator Valerie writes in a minimalist zoned-out style which I found completely believable. I'm not saying she's the new Emma Bovary but she comes alive. She does say quite a few things like :

I had to bite my palms when I stepped out of the elevator on the fourth floor into the vestibule of the psychiatric ward at Garvin general.

Sample dialogue - Valerie is visiting a shooting victim who has been left disfigured.

"Yeah, they make suicides stay for three days or something like that. But most of them end up staying longer because their parents are so freaked out. Is your mom freaked out?"

"She is so beyond freaked you have no idea."

One big point this novel makes, by implication, is how easily young women can turn into pretty young zombies. Valerie kind of sleepwalks along with her lovely boyfriend. She's influenced by his darkness, his infatuation with death, okay, yes, the G word is not used but this young couple are clearly Goths. Black eyeliner is mentioned. Why Nick is constantly picked on at Garvin High School is also not really explored in much detail, but after the brief scenes which describe his poverty stricken home life and his tatty clothes clearly the motive for the bullying has more than a whiff of class prejudice about it. As Nick's anguish about being a continual target at school deepens, Valerie is still thinking that it's Val&Nick against the world and just by throwing up this screen of hatred expressed in the Hate List she writes up in her journal, they can survive. She doesn't see he's taking it all to a whole other level. Oh those horrendous later realisations! Ah humanity!

I didn't realise you were so unhappy.

I didn't realise what your life was really like.

and worse

I didn't realise you meant it!

At the end of the novel we are presented with an interview with the author who helpfully answers questions like Why was Valerie's dad so mean? (I wondered that too) and after that the first chapter of Jennifer Brown's next novel! How ...er...nice! Thank you! This did not used to happen in the days of Gustave Flaubert or James Joyce but it may have been useful.

All in all, another gothtastic, maxillo-facial read : 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Helen.
159 reviews68 followers
February 12, 2018
The Hate List is by no means a cheerful read, but it is an important one. The plot begins in the aftermath of a school shooting where several students are murdered before the shooter, Nick, commits suicide. The story is told from the perspective of Valerie, Nick’s girlfriend and fellow social outcast. Valerie herself is implicated in the shooting, despite being shot herself protecting another student. The police, her school friends, even her own family, all start accusing her of being Nick’s accomplice once the ‘hate list’ they wrote together comes to light. In this list, which was originally Valerie’s idea, everyone who had ever bullied or tormented her or Nick is written down. From Valerie's perspective it was an innocent enough act of defiance, but the list goes on to be massively blown out of proportion once the police realise that Nick used it to choose his victims. Of course, Valerie had no idea what Nick was plotting, but the other characters don’t benefit from Valerie’s internal monologue like the reader does, all they see is the cold, hard evidence, which admittedly is looking pretty bad for her.

I found Valerie to be a surprisingly sympathetic character. Going into this novel, I assumed I would think she was naive to the point of idiocy for falling in love with someone as clearly troubled as Nick was, and then making a hate/death list with him, but, honestly, I came to understand how she did all those things. Brown writes Valerie’s internal voice so well, and conveys her inner conflict and guilt so fluently, that Valerie never seems like a truly bad person, in fact, she’s as much a victim of Nick’s shooting as anyone. She lost the boy she loved, and wasn’t even permitted to mourn him. A lot of prose is devoted to Valerie’s inner conflict, whether she’s battling over her feelings for Nick or whether she could have done something to stop the massacre, so if you don’t like that sort of thing and prefer reading more dialogue and action heavy stories, then this book may not be for you.

I read this in a couple of sittings and, despite the heavy subject matter, it is a remarkably quick read. I liked how both sides of the conflict are humanised; the reader can understand why Valerie hated her tormentors enough to create a hate list, but, at the same time, the people who bullied her were just stupid kids trying to fit in, and certainly didn’t deserve their fates any more than Valerie deserved their abuse. It’s interesting to see how schools full of young people, the majority of whom are decent and well-meaning human beings, can become such toxic environments.

I thought the burgeoning friendship between Valerie and Jessica, the girl Valerie saved from Nick, was particularly well-written, as Jessica finally realises the consequences of her actions in the most brutal way possible. The story had a great cast of characters, and made for a very thought-provoking read.
Profile Image for Zoe Kay.
3 reviews
November 3, 2012
Honestly, I my main problem with this book is that I found Valerie very difficult to relate to and understand. At points I could connect with the character, but she seemed selfish and acted, in my opinion, unrealistically when faced with certain situations, like just at the end of the book. She just seems off.

Nick was also very annoying to read about. She tried to highlight Nick's "good side," but he shot up a school. The author doesn't emphasize the fact that he literally murdered his own peers. Instead, I felt like Brown was playing Nick off as a "really good guy, just sad" instead of "this guy is considered a serial killer." I have a lot of interest in school shootings, specifically Columbine, and, to me, Nick was poorly written out.

I felt detached as other readers have until the end. I did enjoy her therapist during all his mentions and Bea, but the ending was the only part I can say I truly enjoyed about this book.

Everyone was very black-and-white besides Valerie and Nick. Either they're a good guy or a bad guy. No inbetween. Jessica was saintly, "popular people" anti-christs, etc. No one had a deep side.

Lastly, how on Earth does no one care about the shootings a year later? They mention that the shootings just got a moment of silence and everyone already moved on, even if they saw their best friends die. I think it takes a lot more to just get past it like that. That would not at all be an aftermath of a shooting.

Overall, mixed feelings.
Profile Image for :¨·.·¨:  `·. izzy ★°*゚.
230 reviews66 followers
January 12, 2020
This is a very deep topic, especially with what's recently happened in America. I'm glad I chose to finally read this book after it had been sitting on my shelf for a while.
I didn't personally know any of the victims of the recent school shooting, but it hit me hard and I was left wondering for days about the victims and their families. So, I decided to read this book.

This book is different from any school shooting books I've heard of. It follows a girl named Valarie who created a 'Hate List' with her boyfriend Nick. They put the names of everyone who had done them wrong. Nick shoots up the school and Valarie is left to deal with her own guilt and the hate that everyone is giving her.
The message of this book was brilliant. It showed how everyone can come together after such a traumatic event and it showed how people can heal and forgive.
Most school shootings occur due to bullying and/or mental illness. This book dealt with the issue in such a great way. Nick was bullied but he was portrayed as a normal human being and the message was clear but not patronising. Think before you act. Think before you call someone names, before you shove someone, before you and your friends laugh at someone. I know this is a message we have all heard and we all understand but this book just goes into it at a deeper level. It's scary what people can push other people to do. It's scary what some people are capable of.
It's scary how you think you know someone and it's scary how you missed all the 'obvious' signs.

I liked how this book had a different point of view to it. There were newspaper articles that told some information about the day and each victim, as well as flashbacks. However, the flashbacks flowed into the present telling of the story. I felt very connected to Valarie as she tried to cope with life after the event. How she tried to deal with the guilt, anger, sadness, confusion and loss. It felt as if I were there with her, attending her counselling sessions and walking the halls of Garvin High. I wasn't expecting to feel so connected to her character, I care for her a lot and if there was a follow up book on how she's doing now, I'd read it in a heartbeat.
The fact that Valarie was also dealing with home and family issues made the book more real. It wasn't just 'School shooting, The End.' It told the story of someone's life and their struggles of the past, present and ongoing future.
I also found the friendship between Jessica and Valarie beautiful. The themes of forgiveness, community and love were very strong in this book and I really loved that.
This was such a deep and eye opening story that I really felt connected to. It is a story I will remember. I highly recommend you read this book.
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
551 reviews406 followers
May 27, 2015
First thought after I finished: Can everyone just go and read this book, please? Thank you.

I love it when a book creeps up on me and sucker punches me in the gut, yelling: “hello yes I am now in your top favourite books of all time and I don’t plan on leaving”. Hate List did this. I am in love with this book. I cried so much while reading it and it really struck a chord with me.

At first look, Hate List is a book about a school shooting and about the aftermath of that. On May 2nd 2007, Nick opened fire on the students in his high school. After a rampage, during which he shoots several teachers and students, including his girlfriend, Valerie, in the leg, when she jumped in front of another student, he turns the gun on himself. It’s so much more than a book about a school shooting, though. It’s Valerie’s story. She survives after being shot, but her whole world is turned upside down, when the authorities discover a plethora of incriminating evidence, that throws suspicion on her knowing about (and even helping with) Nick’s plan. Her world falls apart even more than it did before.

Sensitive material in books is always difficult to tackle. Whether it’s mental illness, depression, eating disorders, it’s very tricky to write about subjects like these. Hate List touches point with several similar themes: suicidal thoughts, bullying, school shooting. It paints a sad picture, of a boy driven to extremes by the behavior of his peers, combined with his inner struggles and other outside factors. It paints the sad picture of a girl feeling guilty and responsible (the Hate List was written by both of them, as a way to vent frustration, and it contained the names of everyone who had ever been mean to them), of a girl who is torn between the image of a loving boyfriend and a cold blooded killer, forced to reconcile these two images, of a girl trying to heal, who pushes everyone away, because it’s easier to just let go, than try to make an effort.

This is one of those books that leaves you so torn. We see Nick through Val’s eyes and we’re as conflicted as she is, because in her eyes, Nick was a good person. He was a son and a friend and a loved one. Yet good people can do horrible things. I’m not making excuses for him, it’s just how I felt at times while reading this. We see the abuse they both suffer: being called names, being bullied, we see the struggles they both face at home and we see the warning signs. Yet, there’s nothing we can do. We sit there helplessly and see it all go down.

It’s a very thought provoking book and I often found myself stopping while reading it, to just think it through. And it made me mad. It made me so mad. Especially at Val’s parents - despite the fact that she was cleared by the authorities, something broke in that relationship - her mom was paranoid, protecting the world from her and not the other way around, her father was a piece of trash (I screamed at him more than once). The way I see it, you support your kid. You help them. You offer protection and advice. You don’t accuse them of destroying your family, or threaten to disown them. I have a lot of not-so-nice things to say about them. At least they did the good thing by sending her to therapy - which helps. I am so happy to see a book where the inclusion of therapy shows progress and shows that it does help.

This was beautifully written (warning that there is a time hop between chapters - going back and forth from the shooting to a few months later), full of emotion, real and raw. However, the problem with books like this is that they’re either a hit or a miss. They rely a lot on personal experience. But judge for yourselves. Give it a try.

Favourite quotes:

“People do it all the time–assume that they “know” what’s going on in someone else’s head. That’s impossible. And to think it’s possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you’re not careful.”

“You may not have pulled the trigger, but you helped cause the tragedy.”

“Time’s never up", she whispered, not looking at me, but at my canvas. “Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing. Of course there is.”


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,143 reviews4 followers
August 4, 2009
***SPOILER ALERT***Thought-provoking, sad and disarming, this book is a reflection on school shootings and the effects they have on the survivors.

Val has been with Nick for 3 years and loves him, even though she's found him difficult to talk to recently. At the beginning of their relationship, she shares her "hate list" with him (people who she hates) and they find they have a mutual dislike of many. One day, Nick comes to school with a gun and targets not only those on the list, but others. Val finds herself trying to figure out whether or not she was the cause of the shootings, even though she was the one who stopped Nick at the end.

I could not put this book down once I started it. Although it wouldn't be considered "literary" in the traditional sense, I think the author deals with a very difficult subject matter with grace. The author never sensationalizes the shootings and creates a fully-realized character in Val.

Teens are going to eat this book up. I have a feeling that once they start reading it, it's going to fly off the shelves in libraries and bookstores.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andy.
19 reviews22 followers
March 28, 2015
I'm not going to write massive amounts on this book, but put simply I would have easily given a 5 star review if it weren't for the confusing tense changes up until about half way through the novel.

The second book of the year to make me cry, multiple times in fact. The story becomes so much more that what is represented at first glance, and it went to places that really reached out to me.

Phenomenal read.
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