Published November 16th, 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Author’s website: http://www.petehautman.com/
Photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page
Shayne Blank is the new kid in town–but that doesn’t stop him from getting into a lot of trouble very quickly. The other kids don’t understand him. He’s not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn’t add up. But when he walks into the police department to confess to a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. There’s more to Shayne–and his story–than meets the eye. As the details begin to fill in, the only thing that becomes clear is that nothing about Shayne’s story is clear at all.
Rating (out of 5):
Having never read a book by Pete Hautman before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read a review from someone I know who loved it, and it sounded intriguing so I picked up a copy to see if my first impression was correct. Initially I was excited by this book. It was being told through the POV of a friend of Shayne’s who knew the story that he was telling to the cops. This was interesting but not fascinating. I didn’t really connect with the character and I feel that it made it VERY obvious what was going to happen based on who was narrating and what he said. But even though I had the horrible feeling it was going to end up exactly like I suspected by chapter 2, I carried on.
I don’t really feel like all that much happened in this book. The tension level was set at 10 from the beginning of the book, but then nothing really happens and we’re hearing all these extraneous details that I didn’t really care about. I wanted to know who Shayne killed and why, I didn’t want to know about his friend who wears second-hand suits to school to stand out or the friend’s sister who’s got a penchant for bad boys. I wanted to know about things relevant to the plot, and the only time I got that was when they were referring to the person who he claims he killed, which didn’t really make it that hard to figure out. The only way it was ever going to be anyone else is if Shayne is a complete psychopath, which is not what he was portrayed to be.
And it did end up being exactly who I suspected it was going to be, and so the tension in the book never really ramped up again after the first few pages. One thing I did like about this book was the part about Shayne’s past and his history. That was interesting and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately that was, quite literally, the very last chapter. In the end I can’t say that I particularly loved the book, but it was decent enough. If you are looking for a mystery, this is probably not the book for you since the predictability levels are off the charts. However, I did find it to be a very poignant statement about bullying which seems to be so prevalent in the youth of this world today. For that reason I am rating this a 3, not great but decent enough that I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it.