The Haters by Jesse Andrews
Published by Amulet Books on April 5, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Adventure
From Jesse Andrews, author of the New York Times bestselling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and screenwriter of the Sundance award–winning motion picture of the same name, comes a groundbreaking young adult novel about music, love, friendship, and freedom as three young musicians follow a quest to escape the law long enough to play the amazing show they hope (but also doubt) they have in them.
Inspired by the years he spent playing bass in a band himself, The Haters is Jesse Andrews’s road trip adventure about a trio of jazz-camp escapees who, against every realistic expectation, become a band.
For Wes and his best friend, Corey, jazz camp turns out to be lame. It’s pretty much all dudes talking in Jazz Voice. But then they jam with Ash, a charismatic girl with an unusual sound, and the three just click. It’s three and a half hours of pure musical magic, and Ash makes a decision: They need to hit the road. Because the road, not summer camp, is where bands get good. Before Wes and Corey know it, they’re in Ash’s SUV heading south, and The Haters Summer of Hate Tour has begun.
In his second novel, Andrews again brings his brilliant and distinctive voice to YA, in the perfect book for music lovers, fans of The Commitments and High Fidelity, or anyone who has ever loved—and hated—a song or a band. This witty, funny coming-of-age novel is contemporary fiction at its best.
If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining read this summer, make sure to pick up The Haters by Jesse Andrews. This young adult contemporary follows Wes and his best friend Corey as they arrive at jazz band summer camp. The two quickly find out that jazz camp isn’t what they expected, and when Ash, the girl they just met, invites them to ditch camp and go on tour as a band, they jump at the chance. The Haters follows Wes, Corey, and Ash as they road trip throughout the southern United States, and all of the crazy situations in which they find themselves.
First things first, I wanted to talk about the book’s content. The advance copy I was reading states that this book is recommended for ages 13 and up, but I would personally recommend this for ages 17 and up. The Haters is extremely raunchy, complete with swear words galore. It truly lives up to the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” theme as well. While this content fits well into the storyline, and I wouldn’t edit any of these things out, I definitely recommend the book for older readers. If this book were a film, I’m guessing it would be rated R.
Speaking of which, The Haters would make an excellent movie. It reminds me of The Hangover, because the characters get into one crazy adventure after another. This is definitely the kind of book where the reader needs to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy it. This story would never happen in real life, but that’s what makes it a ton of fun.
What makes The Haters even more unique is the writing style. I haven’t read Jesse Andrews’s other book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, so I’m not sure how it compares. Nonetheless, The Haters is written in first person from Wes’s point of view. The voice is almost stream of consciousness, and Wes is aware that he is telling the story to the reader. Some parts of the dialogue are written as if this were a movie script, or perhaps text messages, since proper capitalization wasn’t followed. There were also some charts, checklists, and other things sprinkled into the novel, too. At first I found the writing a bit difficult to adapt to, but once I was about 50 pages in I began to love the unique cadence, and the book flew by very quickly.
My main critiques of the book are in regards to the plot and the character development. The plot was a “whatever happens, happens” storyline, and while that worked on one level because anything could happen in the next chapter, I did wish we had a bit more direction for the story. Similarly, I wish the character development was a bit stronger. We get to learn more about Wes, Corey, and Ash as the road trip continues, and I was really intrigued by each character’s backstory. Each has a really interesting home life, and I would love to know more about them. Whenever I got to know a character more, I liked the book more.
Moreover, the ending was a bit hot and cold for me as well. While I enjoyed the ending in terms of what happens, I didn’t so much like how it happens. Wes gives the reader an info-dump in the last 10 pages, and I would have liked a bit more meat there. Nonetheless, I loved how the story comes to a close. It was realistic, and I think fit the tone of the book well.
I had a ton of fun reading The Haters and highly recommend it so long as you are comfortable reading quite a raunchy book. This is a quick read and perfect for the beach this summer. I will be definitely be checking out Jesse Andrews’s other books in the future!
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