Adam Upton and Thomas “Lee” Harvey are plotting the next big school massacre at their New Hampshire high school. Nicole Janicek, who knew Adam in elementary school, tries to reconnect with the damaged teen at the start of their senior year. But will Nicole’s attempt to befriend the would-be killer disrupt the plot and turn Adam’s life around before the clock strikes 12:14?
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Before I get on with the review, I’d like to mention that I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Yay for ARCs!
When I first saw the description for this book, I immediately wanted to read it. Considering I’m a high school librarian, school shootings always are a touchy subject with me, though quite honestly I’m sure they are with everyone. I also really liked the cover. Yes, I judge books by their covers.
Let me start with the negatives first. The dialogue between the characters felt very forced and not very realistic. The main characters of the book are teenagers; teenagers do not constantly say the name of the person they are talking to in conversation, but they did in this book. There were quite a few times when the conversations that took place just sounded incredibly awkward; I know teenagers can be awfully awkward themselves, but some of the conversations just seemed like they were over-the-top awkward. If some of the “name dropping” wasn’t involved, it would have been less awkward and a little bit more realistic.
Another issue I had with the book was the whole concept of the main character being alerted to a possible school shooting through a dream. People dream horrible things every day, but that doesn’t mean they act on what happened or what was said in their dreams. The dream was also confusing to the story; the mention of 14th and Stardust happened, and the main character kept questioning it, but even still it was awkward and forced, almost like it was thrown in at the last minute to add something else to the idea.
Now for the good aspects. I enjoyed the characters; they were all believable as teenagers. Several characters I felt were unnecessary, but I still liked their presence nonetheless. Several instances between the characters felt unnecessary, but I saw where the author was going with his intentions for them. They did add to the story, but not so much the main storyline. They were still entertaining to read however. Anyway, Nicole Janicek was a really enjoyable main character, a genuine person who merely wanted to save her school from a horrific event. I’m sure if anyone was alerted to the fact that there might be a chance of a school shooting, they would do what they could to stop it, especially after what happened last December at Newtown. Shootings, especially school shootings, are difficult to discuss and remember; I feel the author did a great job at writing on such a touchy subject, especially just under a year after that shooting. As awful as it is to say, the two guys planning the school shooting were also “great” though I should probably say they were well developed and were realistic in their actions, especially their language. As much as a stereotype as it is, it does seem like those who commit such horrible acts are those that are the “misfits” or the “outcasts” who are not necessarily part of the popular crowd and have been deemed as such. The author portrayed these types of characters incredibly well and I enjoyed reading about their thoughts and actions, though more of how they were and less of what they were doing.
Breaking boundaries with cliques and being able to merge and be friends with those who are different is admirable; people should be less judgmental (says the person who is judging people for being judgmental, ha!) and more accepting of those who are “different.” While there were certain aspects of this book that felt forced and unreal, the idea of Nicole becoming friends with Adam in order to save not only her school, but him from his actions as well is very realistic. Sometimes all it takes is one nice remark or even a smile to completely change someone’s day…thoughts…life. I see it every day in the high school I work in; you never know what is going on in someone’s life, but it doesn’t hurt to be considerate and thoughtful, much like Nicole was to Adam. This book does a great job at depicting a real life, every day situation that can simply be transformed through one thoughtful moment.
Another (minor) aspect about the book that I enjoyed was that there wasn’t a true teenage romance plot. It seems these days that stories boil down to the romance aspect to save the day; honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it doesn’t quite fit the story to do that. I was pleasantly surprised that this book didn’t use love and romance to smooth everything over or save the day, but instead friendship did.
This book was a quick read, but enjoyable. Everything was at a fast pace, but I appreciated that more than having it drag out with excess fluff to make it longer. Streaks of Blue is incredibly relevant to teenagers today, especially with what has happened in recent years. While there were some aspects of the book that I wasn’t a fan of, I did enjoy the read.