Published: March 13th 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
A congressman’s daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who’s tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who’s done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion.
They couldn’t be more different, but before the morning’s over, they’ll all be trapped in a school that’s been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they’ll also be looking to one another for answers.
This book was one of my highly anticipated releases of March. Especially with whats currently going on with #MarchForOurLives, I was excited to see how the author tackles this subject. However, I found this book to be extremely predictable and too stereotypical to have really added anything to the current discussion. I felt that this book should have been much more complex than it was in so many ways than it was and it was just left lacking .
My biggest issue with this book was just how stereotypical all of our main players were. There was no real depth to any of the characters beyond their stereotypes and some of the characters really don’t change or take ANYTHING from the experience they went through and shared. The author did include a diverse set of characters – but they needed to be fleshed out and developed beyond the social stereotypes and the predictable secrets that they were holding onto. From Jocks who are in the closet, to a congressman daughter who feels like she is trapped being a person that she doesn’t want to be, to a teen who ha lost his mum and hates the whole world (and the friend he has who is trying to save him from himself), to the muslim who is IMMEDIATELY blamed for the situation without proof and the student who is bullied to the point of suicide – the characters are a wide cast of different people, but I wanted to get to know them on a deeper level and not just for their ‘secrets’.
I feel like this book tried to introduce too many social issues and didn’t actually talk about them in any great detail. I would have rather the book focused on 1 or 2 and had actually discussed them in depth, as opposed to touching on various and not bringing anything to the bigger discussion. I also liked the fact that Charbonneau introduced a political aspect with the legislation that Diana’s father was trying to pass (I don’t want to spoil it), but, again, I think it could have been discussed on a larger and deeper scale in a way that would have mattered.
I liked the fact that Charbonneau brought together a band of people who would usually have NOTHING to do with one and another and stuck them in a situation in which they had to rely on one another to get them through the situation. Especially when the characters find out that one of them is responsible for the bombing and the way that they had to continue to rely on each other whilst trying to figure out who it was.
This book was also too predictable for me. I already knew who it was right from the very beginning chapter of that character and I had guessed why they did it. It was too obvious in the way in which certain things were described and the things that they did – so, in this sense, I would have liked a bit more of a whodunnit that would have had me guessing throughout.
I would have also liked to have seen more psychologically repercussions after the event. I felt that only one character really showed any sign of struggling to come to terms with what had happened, whilst I felt that a couple of other really took nothing away from the experience itself. It annoyed me that there didn’t seem to be any character development at all and it was almost like nothing happened for them.
All in all, I struggled with this book. I felt like it could have added a lot more to the current discussion if it had been executed in the right way, as well as added something to other discussions such as suicide awareness and homosexuality in sports. I struggled to connect emotionally to any of these characters and it was just too predictable. I gave this 2/5 stars.