Friday, April 8, 2016

ARC Review: The Hater's by Jesse Andrews

Title: The Haters
Written by: Jesse Andrews
Published: April 5, 2015 by Amulet
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I've been trying to break out of my comfort zone and try more books that I wouldn't normally pick. This book is a good example of that. Contemporary road trip stories are far out of my comfort zone. And with such high praise for this author's first book I thought I would give this one a try. While I did like some aspects of this book, I ultimately think it was just okay for me.

One of the things I did like about the book is the humor and honesty. I like my contemporaries to be more on the funny side. I don't like overly sad books and if a book can walk that fine line between humor and seriousness I am a fan. Andrews definitely had the humor part down. But it's not everyone's kind of humor. It was rude and crude and I liked that. There were a lot of really awkward and funny moments that had me totally laughing. I could picture myself in these instances or my friends relaying this story to me. That was another thing about this book. It was really honest and realistic. For one thing, I think that Andrews definitely captures that whole teenage rebellion thing but he does it in a real way. It wasn't over the top which was nice. There is a lot of swearing, inappropriate jokes, and even more inappropriate actions. There were awkward sexual encounters and stupid mistakes you have to live with.

But unfortunately that didn't really reflect very well in the characterization. The crude humor and terrible mistakes made it so that I never fully connected with these characters. Their need for rebellion without much reason came off at a little flippant at times. And while I did appreciate that they didn't feel like caricatures or tropes, in general they just felt a little flat to me and were not at all likable. That's not a dealbreaker for me but when you have a character-driven book you kind of need good characters. I was hoping for an interesting book about friends forged and made stronger by shared experiences but this honestly was just people treating each other like crap and then realizing at the very end that they were being jerks. It didn't work on that level.

But the general plot development I think was the part that didn't work for me most. I'm not a fan of road trip stories. For me that's not a plot point I enjoy and that was the basis for the story. I get that road trips can often serve a purpose for the development of the character as they struggle along and see the larger world around them and learn something about themselves. That's fine. I can often get behind that. But I don't feel like that was really the case here. I think I would have liked it a little bit more if there had been some more self-actualization and epiphanies on their travels but I didn't get that vibe. It was just people driving around and getting up to some shenanigans. Those aren't the kind of books that I like and the times where I can stomach a road trip. And unfortunately that also made it a little to outside of my comfort zone.

On the whole, this book was okay. It had a lot of humor and some awkward laugh out loud moments and it was a fast and engaging read but it just didn't work from me on a plot standpoint and I'm such a plot-driven reader. I don't think this was a bad book. I just think it isn't my kind of read.

I give The Haters by Jesse Andrews 7 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. If you like road trips and crude kind of humor then definitely check this one. It's a fast and fun contemporary that I think big fans of the genre may enjoy. But if this isn't your favorite genre and you are looking for something different I'm not sure I would suggest this as a place to start.

Have you read The Haters? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I think I'll pass on this one. I'm not a fan of crude humor, and while I love a good road trip story, I like there to be more to the plot than it sounds like there was in this book. Good review.

  2. I must confess that given that contemporaries are not exactly my kinda books and that I only read those that really call to me or come really recommended... If it was just okay for you, I'm skipping this one!