Title // Shooter
Author // Caroline Pignat
Pages // 320 pages
Publisher // Razorbill
Series // None
Release Date // May 2016
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon
The Breakfast Club meets We Need to Talk About Kevin
A lockdown catches five grade 12 students by surprise and throws them together in the only unlocked room on that empty third floor wing: the boys’ washroom. They sit in silence, judging each other by what they see, by the stories they’ve heard over the years. Stuck here with them–could anything be worse?
There’s Alice: an introverted writer, trapped in the role of big sister to her older autistic brother, Noah.
Isabelle: the popular, high-achieving, student council president, whose greatest performance is her everyday life.
Hogan: an ex-football player with a troubled past and a hopeless future.
Xander: that socially awkward guy hiding behind the camera, whose candid pictures of school life, especially those of Isabelle, have brought him more trouble than answers.
Told in five unique voices through prose, poetry, text messages, journals, and homework assignments, each student reveals pieces of their true story as they wait for the drill to end. But this modern-day Breakfast Club takes a twist when Isabelle gets a text that changes everything: NOT A DRILL!! Shooter in the school!
Suddenly, the bathroom doesn’t seem so safe anymore. Especially when they learn that one of them knows more about the shooter than they realized…
I don’t think I can ease you into the review of this story. The novel doesn’t ease you in, and that’s how I like it. Shooter is a harrowing tale of an hour ordeal of lockdown in a school. Pretty nuts, huh. It shines a light on modern American society, and highlights the struggles with gun control and teenage life. I have to hold my hands up and admit that I found Shooter a relatively mild novel in terms of what could have been and what actually was.
The plot was what originally drew me as I found some intrigue in the genre. School shootings are horrific, and I find it interesting to see how authors are going to paint these events. As to date, there has only been one school shooting novel that has portrayed an interesting yet harrowing story line. And sadly, it wasn’t this novel. Do not be under any pretense that I didn’t enjoy this book. What wasn’t to enjoy? Execution if the plot was good, and it unraveled fairly quickly and evenly. Yet I felt that something was ultimately missing – but I cannot place my finger on it.
The best thing about Shooter is the portrayal of the characters. Normally I detest books which split or share the POV between more than two characters, but Caroline Pignat managed to capture the exact personality traits of all those the book is about. Isabelle, or Izzy, is pretty much your popular ‘It’ girl who is transitioning into a self-aware young adult. While still a brat in many ways, you do feel for the consequences that unravel during the lockdown. Alice is the nerd that hides inside every lost teenager. Having a responsibility over her autistic older brother Noah, Pignat cleverly captures the loneliness of her life and the whirlwind that revolves around her brother.
Noah, bless his little cotton socks, is the character who wants to watch The Lion King. And to be honest, I don’t blame him. Xander is the guy you see alone at lunch, head buried in a book or a camera. He’s adorably sweet and on the inside only wants someone to be his companion. Even if he is socially awkward, you find him sweeter than a muffin. And Hogan – please can I have a Hogan? Strong, damaged and literally every girls dream, Hogan is the tall, mysterious loner with a broken past and a damaged future. All the time you are shipping him with Alice and at the same time hating all the girls for being in the same room. Just me? OK, maybe just me.
Pacing of the novel was fair. It didn’t move at a speed too fast or too slow – it was just right for me to get a grip on all that happened. I know I read at a fast pace, but I finished the novel in a number of hours, placing it back on my virtual shelf with a little smile. My only little niggle that arose from the story was the ending. While I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘rushed’, I would argue that it felt . . . unfinished in some way. The resolution wasn’t one I was expecting, and I still have a few questions that I want answering. Whether this is the purpose, in order to set up a sequel, I am unsure. But the ending didn’t make me feel crazy about the book on a whole.
Yet I think we should give Caroline Pignat a massive clap. Her story does touch on serious, and maybe even trigger-enducing themes. If you find self-harming, violence and fear as triggering, then I advise you not to read this book. The themes are not overwhelming, but they at present. My opinion of the story is stuck at 3 out of 5 snowflakes, but I will still be purchasing a copy of the novel. Well done, Caroline Pignat. I’m impressed.
Still unsure on whether this book is the one for you? Have a look at what other bloggers have to say.
Islandgeekgirl @ Overflowing Bookshelves says “Pignat did a great job of keeping things interesting and keeping the plot moving.”
Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts says “Shooter is a compellingly unputdownable read featuring teenagers who can be found in all academic settings.”