Book Title: Shooter (Standalone) Author: Caroline Pignat Number of pages: 342
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?
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– If you’re interested in a school shooting book, go forth. It is also Canadian Literature (CanLit) so there’s that.
– Multi-POV narration with different storytelling formats (e.g. prose, images, text messages, homework reports, just to name a few). The shooter does not have a POV.
– A sleuth of derogatory and prejudicial treatment in comments that’s introduced and shot down by another narrator (this is wonderful).
– The scenario as a whole can be difficult to engage as characters from different social circles are thrown together and come to easily mesh with each other under the hour of conflict.
– Unnecessary romance (instalove tier) that isn’t really value added
Much better than the previous school shooting standalone I read earlier this year in This Is Where It Ends.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Shooter from Goodreads re First Reads giveaway program.
Pignat’s Shooter is another reminder as to the commonality of gun violence among youths and its lingering effects on any community. What else can I really add? This is the basis to which the story rests upon and it’s merely another perspective to why these stories are important to be read.
There’s a homely feel that was refreshing and intriguing to me; particularly due to this story being Canadian Literature (CanLit). While I’m glad to say that I rarely have to recall any school shooting on the news in Canada (when compared to United States, at least), the possibility is very much there and Shooter melds Canadian references in its educational institutions and cultural mosaic thriving in Canada to really sell a story that worked for me on a personal level.
Otherwise, what can I really say? 75% of this novel takes place inside a boys’ bathroom and the writing promotes the accessible imagination of the various hallways and structural frameworks of any standard high school building.
Shooter tacks on a variety of narrative styles to it’s already multi-POV storytelling; from standard prose to cartoon-y images, text messages, and even various homework reports. I found the picture-based perspective (re: autistic boy) powerful to engage in that it held a nuanced interpretation. The homework assignment and/or journal-ish entries were hit-or-miss. I’m also glad that these kids text message in full sentences with proper grammar. Holy shit, right?
Can I also say how impressed I am with how scenes both introduced and shot down [most] derogatory and prejudicial treatment of certain individuals. It’s almost like some sort of reflective therapy for the reader to consider past thoughts we’ve had (regardless of whether we vocalized it or not) and consider its repercussions while empathizing in the head space of those affected by it. For example: there’s a scene where one character is called a retard and one of the MCs shuts that down so quickly. Good shit.
Much like the problems I had with other school shooting-centric books that graze the surface of the assailants perspective and psyche, Shooter, at least, does not seek to mainly antagonize the individual/villain. Though hearsay does guide most of that character’s arc, it was good to have one of the five protagonists sort-of linked to the endgame. More of this character’s voice would have been beneficial to the story (at least for me).
With Shooter drawing influences from Breakfast Club, it does generalize the fluidity to which different cliques mesh together. If it were a primary school setting, then yeah, everyone is typically friends with everyone else. In high school: friends drift, you find familiar voices, and cliques form; all to say that students wouldn’t necessarily speak so candidly with one another within the hour time-frame Shooter is set. Can it happen? Absolutely. This quickly? Ehhhh–they’d talk about basic stuff but nothing so deep as this story delves into.
But let’s say that’s plausible for a moment. The impressive thing is that these characters all hold onto something different that makes them important voices to be read about. From disabilities to fuck ups to alternative families (re adoption), the varying paths of characters shape Shooter to be important from an diverse scope.
For full transparency: there is romance in this story–instalove, kind of–and it’s a dud.
Shooter is a compellingly unputdownable read featuring teenagers who can be found in all academic settings. If you’re considering a 2016 release featuring a school shooting for a book club, I’d be hard pressed not to recommend this story.