Written by: Caroline Pignat
Number of pages: 320
Average Rating: 4.09/5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Published: May 3, 2016
Read in September 2017
Summary According to Goodreads
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 int he 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.
As many of you probably already know, I am fascinated by the psychology behind what leads people to commit crimes - specifically school shootings. Fewer of you may know that I had started writing my own novel, with the plot surrounding a shooting. I do rate these types of novels harder, because they are so personal in today’s society, but also because I know what I would do with it.
Because of my strong interest, I have read many novels (both fiction and non-fiction) from this plot, and this might be one of the worst that I’ve read. It is portrayed as five students stuck in a bathroom during a lockdown, but instead of focusing on the shooter, it focuses on the lives of these people and how they’ve been wrongly judging them over the years.
I didn’t like any of the characters, they were typical and flat, and were dealing with generic senior year problems. I feel like the author just thought of the four most generic types of high school students, and picked one from each group to build her cast: the popular one, the loner, the nerd, and the bad boy. Oh, and then added an autistic brother to make it more diverse. Each chapter rotated through being told in their perspectives, but a couple of times I would forget whose I was reading from and had to flip back to see.
The plot was just as flat as the characters were, with the big reveal, being nothing special. There is random details thrown in from each of these kids, and it almost came across as “who can give the biggest sob story?” All of the dramatic stuff happened right at the end, and was over before the reader knew we were finally getting somewhere. I never once felt as though these students were afraid for their lives, and instead felt their boredom seeping off the pages. When I was in school I had done plenty of lockdowns, and even if you know it is a drill, it brings a certain anxiety with it but that was lacking in this novel.
So I can tell you exactly why I gave two stars: One star for being set in a Canadian school. One star for the different writing styles, that made it a lot easier to read and kept the plot going. This novel is set within an hour (and then a bit of the aftermath), so it is a fairly quick read because you want to know what is going to happen to these kids - as basic as they are.
Overall, this was mediocre. This author has written many novels so I expected more out of her writing and plot development. I didn’t bring anything away from this story, and it will not be making an impact on me or my reading experiences in any way. I wish I had just picked it up from the library, and will be un-hauling it so someone else can hopefully enjoy it more than I did. If you are interested in school shooting novels, I would stay away from this one, or go into it with low expectations.