The Haters is Jesse Andrews’ second novel that follows two best friends Wes and Corey who have been forced into attending a jazz band camp. At the camp they meet the charismatic Ash and the three of them decide to hit the road and embark on a band tour- The Haters Summer of Hate Tour. Awkwardness and hilarity events obviously unfold as they try to pursue musical success.
Overall this book was not my favourite and unfortunately I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on why but I do have a couple of possibilities. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy parts of this book but for the most part I didn’t find it as fun as I thought I would. So for this review I’m going to mix it up a little bit and do a little list of ‘REASONS WHY I THINK I KIND OF HATED THE HATERS!’ Honestly this is less of a review and more of a, ‘Let’s list out my thoughts and figure out why I didn’t like this book!’ I just want to put a quick disclaimer saying that I myself am kind of a ‘hater’ so in this post I will be getting quite nit-picky and honestly half these reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the book itself. But overall they still impacted my experience of reading this book so I do want to discuss them with you so let’s jump into it!
Number 1: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of my favourite books of all time
I know what you’re all thinking. Gabby, you shouldn’t let the author’s other books influence your thoughts on one of their books. Which I totally agree with but sometimes you just can’t help it… I had such high expectations for The Haters since I loved Jesse Andrews’ other book but unfortunately this one just didn’t live up to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. What I had absolutely loved in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl such as the anti-climaxes in the plot and lack of real meaning (these sound horrible but trust me they are amazing in MAEATDG) didn’t have the same effect on me. Perhaps because this is already what I had seen from the author in his first book and it felt like a less interesting reboot version of that. That probably made no sense… I’m just going to move on now.
Number 2: The topic of the book i.e. music
While I do enjoy listening to music quite frequently I do not know a lot about it as a whole especially when it gets to more technical things such as what key an instrument plays in or the timing of beats and all that jazz… (pun intended;)) Also I knew roughly 2% of the artists/bands they referenced in the book making me feel very confused and mainstream. I think overall this made me have trouble understanding a lot of the inside jokes and references the book had while also making me feel kind of disconnected from the characters. Which brings me to number 3!
Number 3: Characters?!
I started off the book being able to semi relate to the characters. I for one, am definitely a hater. I usually find it quite easy to nit-pick at small things in books or movies or whatever really that I don’t enjoy. *cough* this book *cough* But as the book continued I kind of found myself feeling less connected to the characters partially because of reason Number 2 and also just because I felt like there was kind of a lack of character development till the very end of the novel. I was not a big fan of the character dynamic between Wes, Corey and Ash for most of the book. I think I would have preferred if we got to see them grow closer throughout the book rather than being on awkward terms for 90% of the time. On top of that I felt no real attachment to any of the characters like I did in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Wes was cool in my opinion but not a revolutionary character. Corey was similar and frankly I was just confused about what his character was even like in the first place. Then finally we had Ash who’s character I went back and forth between liking and hating. Though at the end of the day she was just frustrating. I think there is a possibility I could have liked the characters a whole lot more if there were multiple points of view from both Corey and Ash rather than just Wes.
Number 4: Humour
This book definitely had its funny moments but I think again, in comparison to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl it just wasn’t as hilarious. The sense of humour is very much the same but I feel like about a quarter of the way into the book the laugh out loud lines stopped occurring as frequently, or perhaps I just couldn’t pick them up (refer back to Number 2). In short I didn’t find this book as funny as I thought it would be perhaps leading to why I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.
Number 5: Timing?
Right now I’m definitely in a mood for a fun light hearted read which I for some reason thought this book would be. I just read the words ‘summer’ and ‘road-trip’ on the back of the book and thought ‘YES! That sounds perfect!’ But no, while this book is fun it’s not necessarily the type of summer contemporary I thought it was going to be leading to the next reason.
Number 6: FALSE ADVERTISING!
I knew nothing about this book until I made the mistake of reading the super long synopsis on the back of my copy which says, I quote *clears throat*
Wes and Corey are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – and cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. When Ash convinces them that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters 2016 Summer of Hate Tour.
Amid sneaking into seedy bars, evading their parents and the police, and spending every minute together in a makeshift tour bus, romance blossoms and bursts, and hygiene takes a back seat. Wes begins to realise the limitations of hating everything: it keeps you at a convenient distance from something, or someone, you just might love.
When you can find something to hate about every band, how do you make a sound you love?
Now let me be the first to point out how inaccurate this synopsis is. Or at least, how inaccurate the synopsis seems for me personally in comparison to what I interpreted from reading the novel. First off I would not label their journey as a ‘hilarious road trip’ at all and they did not ‘spend every minute together in a makeshift tour bus’… For the majority of the trip they either slept in hotels or random people houses and often kept their distance from each other. I also saw no evidence of ‘romance blossoming’ or at least real romance… And finally the synopsis makes the book appear to be ten times more deep and meaningful then the book actually is…
Okay, so while I did just spend most of this review hating on this book there were of course parts of it that I did enjoy.
First off, I loved how honest and realistic the book was. I think Jesse Andrews does an amazing job at capturing realistic characters who are in no way over dramatized or exaggerated. It’s quite refreshing reading a YA book that talks about real life teen related themes and issues without romanticising them in any way.
I also appreciated how Andrews tried to mix it up by dividing the book into sections depending on what part of the world tour the band where on. There were also frequent breaks from normal paragraphing into script form. But I’ve got to say my favourite format was the Wikipedia style format in which the main character would convey information in a comedic way. I found this super funny and unique and I’m only upset that it wasn’t used more frequently throughout the book.
The main character, Wes was also a person of colour which I was happy to read about. I do feel like the amount of YA I read does feature predominantly Caucasian characters so it was nice to see a change in that. On top of that Wes is also adopted which I thought was quite interesting and unique. Generally, throughout the book we got to see a range of characters with varied experiences and lifestyles which I loved.
Surprisingly I actually enjoyed the ending of the book with the last 30 or so pages probably being my favourite. I found that the end tied together quite nicely and it was really the only part where I found myself really enjoying the relationship between the three main characters. While it wasn’t completely perfect it was still satisfying enough and left me feeling quite content and not totally hate the novel.
As a whole I’ve decided to rate the book 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was a mildly entertaining read but I doubt I will ever give this book a re-read. If it does seem like something you will like though I would definitely recommend checking it out. Hopefully you’ll end up liking it a lot more than I did! I do know that Jesse Andrews is writing a movie script for the book which I am still excited about. I’m hoping that perhaps I will like the story a lot better when it is translated into film! Of course I will still read Jesse Andrews’ new books to come since I think there is one coming out either next year or the year after. Although this time I will be sure to go in with no expectations so I can hopefully enjoy it a lot better.
So there we have my review of The Haters by Jesse Andrews! I did try to make this review a little more interesting so please let me know what you thought and if I should maybe change around the format of the reviews I do from now on. Also let me know what you thought of this book or whether it’s on your TBR. Thank you so much for checking out my review and I shall chat with you all later!
Gabby The Dauntless Warlock xx