Author: Jesse Andrews
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Roadtrip
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Visit The Haters‘ goodreads page here
SYNOPSIS: “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.”
DISCLAIMER: I received a paperback edition from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, therefore all written words are an accurate portrayal of my opinions. The review may also contain minor spoilers, so please take caution.
I absolutely love how fun and authentic this book is! Jesse Andrews is a natural storyteller, and The Haters was no exception to that. This was a weirdly wonderful combination of a road trip story mixed with aspects of dark humour that should clash, yet the pair married together to create this beautiful masterpiece.
This road trip wasn’t the most conventional story, which makes it truly unforgettable! The group buy a shitty old, run down car and just drive with no other intention than playing music and having a good time. In a sense, the message is inspiring, but Andrews did it in a way that makes you cringe a little from the bad adventures they got up to. Everything from being threatened by a gun-wielding man whose wife let them stay, to almost colliding with a deer on the highway in the middle of the night. Most novels in this genre make you immediately want to pack up your life and leave with no intentions of returning, yet this one makes you say ‘no thanks, I’ll sit this one out’!
The thing that I loved most about this story was how authentic the characters felt. They were essentially a group of teenagers taking the once in a lifetime trip- but where most authors would make them flawless, Andrews’ made them real. The group were dirty, extremely awkward, sexually frustrated, unlucky in love, and overall full of sarcastic and harmless banter that is like a second language to us younger generations. These types of novels often have the ‘perfect ending’ and everyone lives happily ever after, but this one follows the gang a few months after they split to show the real-life repercussions of doing something so spontaneous and idiotic. It even shows how they had a fractured relationship and they somewhat lost touch which may seem sad to some, but I appreciate its authenticity because sometimes life is a real bastard when it comes to these things.
Even though they felt authentic, the characters were very one-dimensional. None of the trio members had any major personality differences and they all seemed to muddle into one big confusing mess. The only main difference was a slight change in humour between them, but during their conversations, it was near impossible to differentiate between the voices.
Andrews’ has the most unique writing style I’ve ever read, and that’s mostly why this was such an enjoyable story. His narrating voice, in this case, it’s Wes, is somewhat self-aware and will chuck in a few self-deprecating jokes or humorous comments for the sake of telling a story. He also uses unconventional techniques for explaining a backstory or dialogue between characters that make it a more exhilarating experience. I found it to be the most redeeming feature of his first novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl so I was beyond excited to see that this carried on to his next piece of work. Due to this individuality, he is one of few authors on my ‘automatic buy list’ because I doubt he is physically capable of creating something boring!
The thing that I disliked most is how Ash somewhat took advantage of and pressured the boys into going on the trip, to begin with. It’s clear that they wanted to go, and loved (nearly) every second of it, but I felt that considering Ash was a few years older than them, she really used her age as an authoritative measure. Obviously, she was excited to go on tour and leave Jazz camp, and self-doubt would affect anyone, but I felt that her presence in the decision-making process for the boys was overwhelming and she used the fact that they liked her to her advantage. This was abundantly clear when she hooked up with Corey on their first league of the trip purely because she was bored. They would’ve done anything for her to seem cool and relaxed in her eyes, and I really disliked that. But then again, that just adds to the authenticity because I think we’ve all been in an equally uncomfortable situation.
So have you read this book, or are thinking about picking it up? Tell me in a comment down below! Thank you for reading my review and I hope to hear from you again.