Friday, 17 July 2015
'Come Sit By Me' by Thomas Hoobler: A Book Review
The boy who shot seven people in the school library is dead. But did his secrets die with him?
Something terrible happened at Hamilton High last year, and those who survived don't want to relive the past. But Paul has just arrived, and gets the same locker that the shooter used. He wants to know what really happened...and you know what curiosity did to the cat.
Note: I received an advance copy from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have this weird fascination with crime, psychoticism, trauma, and mystery. Put all those things together and what do you get? This book.
I'll admit that I requested this book for reviewing because it reminded me of one of my favourite books of all time (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock). But a closer look told me that the only thing they have in common is the theme of high school shootouts. Still, I was excited to read this one.
Come Sit By Me is a very quick read. I finished it in less than a day, squeezing in a few hours every now and then in between my chores. And although the chapters themselves weren't particularly enticing - I don't think any chapter ends in a cliffhanger - I was still very reluctant to put this book down.
The theme of this book follows a philosophy that I hold very close to my heart: that people aren't born evil. There are always two sides to every story, even if it may be a murderer's story.
Paul, the protagonist, is assigned the locker that belonged to Cale. Cale shot several people in the library a while ago, including himself, and the entire town has been on guard ever since then. And since our hero is a boy who's determined to stick his nose into everybody's business, he decided to investigate. As he braves the school year by making new friends, having new experiences, and uncovering buried secrets, he realises that people aren't always what they seem like... but is that realisation going to cost him his life?
The book is written well, and the writing fits the theme of the book. Here are couple of quotes that stood out:
"Writing is the only kind of work where you don't need to get out of your pajamas," he says.
I felt blood rushing through my head, behind my eyes. This was what it was like to kill. Cale had felt this way. Only... a turkey wasn't a person. If I had killed a real person, everything I was feeling now would be way more intense. You would feel so powerful that you would be like the king of the world. No matter how much people made fun of you."
I liked the way the story plays out, albeit at a slow pace, keeping in mind that Paul is a teenager who has other things on his mind other than Caleb. But by the halfway point, the key to the big mystery became very obvious to me, and it was slightly tiring to watch Paul struggle with answers that were staring him right in the face.
No spoilers, but part of this story is told in the murderer's perspective too, and I really enjoyed reading those parts and finding out that I had been right all along.
However, I do have a few complaints. The characters seem detached. Maybe it's the style of writing, and maybe it was intentional, but I didn't feel anything for any of the characters, not even the victims of this whole mystery. Paul was a very disjointed, numb protagonist. Geeks, you know I love a book that makes me cry buckets, but I didn't see any emotional development at any point in the novel.
Even during the climax of the novel, the characters acted almost robotically. It was a slight turn-off.
I'm going to go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one.
Come Sit By Me is perfect for those late-night book marathons, and although you'll play out the ending in your head several times, it's not something you'll look forward to reading again. But it's a good one-time read nonetheless.
This book comes out on August 11th. If you enjoy suspense and mystery, pick this one up for sure!
See you next time, book Geeks. Bye!