Review: The Haters by Jesse Andrews

haters.jpgOne of the most shocking things I have ever discovered is that not everybody loved Jesse Andrews’ brilliant and hilarious book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I have explained at length the many hysteria-related injuries I sustained while reading this book. But apparently some peculiar souls don’t share this view and isn’t that what makes the world so interesting? (Answer: no. Biscuits are what makes the world interesting.)
Based on this, I would say it is safe to assume that,  if you did not love Me and Earl, you aren’t going to love The Haters. If the opposite is true, however, The Haters will 83% delight and amuse you (we’ll get onto the other 17% in a bit). Andrews’ 2nd book is basically Me and Earl and the Guitar-Playing Girl: the humour is of the same type and nearly as funny, if a little more… anatomical, let’s say. The narrator, Wes, has a very similar voice to Me and Earl‘s Greg; awkward and slightly weird and on the periphery of average teenager experience. The novel starts with Wes at jazz camp along with his best friend, Corey: making the terrible discovery that they aren’t actually that great at jazz, Wes and Corey swiftly escape with Ash, a cooler than cool axe-girl who wants them to be her band.
The Haters is a road movie in book form, following Wes, Corey and Ash as they travel south to find venues where they’ll be able to play. I wasn’t bothered by the implausibility of this, or the convenient fact that Ash’s dad is a neglectful billionaire; if a book is entertaining, I don’t really care if the plot is unrealistic, and The Haters is very entertaining. The banter between the characters is funny and Wes’ narration made me laugh out loud more than once.
I did have one issue with The Haters and it’s a pretty big one. Tell me if I’m over-reacting to this: there’s a point where one of the male characters gets wasted and has sex, despite being in no fit state to make a sensible decision about this, and, the next day, he finds out that one of his friends was in the room at the time and witnessed the girl in question force herself on him. Umm, what? This is then treated as a harmless joke for the rest of the book, while I was thinking, ‘hang on, how is this not rape?’ If the genders were reversed, we’d find ourselves reading Asking for It, and we’d be outraged, and we’d be entirely justified in feeling that way. So, really, I don’t even know what was going on there.
Aside from this quite glaring misstep, I am a fan of Andrews’ writing style; given the many similarities between this and his previous book, I think it’s safe to awkward, hilarious male narrators constitute a ‘style.’ As with Me and Earl, the chapter titles are unwieldy and ridiculous in the most charming way, and Wes has a real way with words when it comes to describing the unravelling events around him.



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