Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Review: "The Haters" by Jesse Andrews

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for making it available!

I never read Jesse Andrews' Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, because just when I discovered the book, the movie was about to come out, and I hate reading books just before I see the film adaptation. Then, of course, I never got around to seeing the movie, so I figured I'd jump on the chance to read his second book, The Haters. I'm glad I did, because while it didn't blow me away as I hoped it would, it made me laugh out loud more than a few times, and yeah, it moved me, too.

Wes and Corey have been best friends since childhood. They have a number of things in common, including a love of all kinds of music, as well as the uncanny ability to pretty much hate on every type of music as well. They share a fairly juvenile sense of humor (including the teenage boy-fueled obsession with the word "dick") but they're both a little more sensitive than they let on as well. When they get the opportunity to attend jazz camp, they're both pretty excited—and then they arrive to find it's almost all guys who are utterly pretentious, and most are more talented than they are.

And then they meet Ash. She's free-spirited, older than they are, inexplicably hot, and she shares their absolute love of music. After jamming together for more than three hours they think they've found kindred musical spirits. When circumstances at jazz camp don't quite go their way, Ash has a brilliant idea: the only way they can achieve greatness as a band is to hit the road and play wherever, whenever they can. So they leave camp (and their cell phones) behind and take off in Ash's SUV for The Haters' Summer of Hate Tour. What could possibly go wrong?

The Haters is wacky, funny as hell, a little moving, and pretty juvenile (not that that's a bad thing). Having never read Andrews' writing before, I don't know if this book is similar to his first or if his way of storytelling is unique for this story, but it took some getting used to. Wes is a terrific narrator but he used a simile or metaphor in almost every sentence in the first 10-20 percent of the book, and some of them were references to obscure musicians or musical styles that went over my head. I almost gave up on the book, but I'm glad I persevered, because it's a really enjoyable read if you know what to expect.

Juvenile dialogue aside, this is a book about friendship, lust, music, growing up, adventure, and the positive and negative effects parents can have on us. This book has a great deal of heart, which is what makes it more than just your average book about kids in a band. I definitely need to go back and read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, too.

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