The Haters is a witty and hilarious novel, written by Jesse Andrews.
For Wes and his best friend Corey, jazz camp turns out to be nothing like they expected. It’s beyond uninteresting: it’s pretty much all dudes talking in Jazz Voice. But then they jam with Ash, a charismatic girl with an unusual sound, and the three just click. It’s three and a half hours of pure musical magic.
So Ash makes a decision: They need to hit the road. Because on the road, not at summer camp, is where bands get good. Before Wes and Corey know it, they’re in Ash’s SUV heading south, and The Hater Summer of Hate Tour has begun.
Reading Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was honestly one of the best choices I’ve made in my life. Yes, it’s up there with deciding to fall in love with reading, staying up until 3am to finish a novel and writing this book review when it’s almost midnight because I have so many thoughts that I have to write down before I lose them in the haze of sleeping. Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little, but hey, I’m a writer. It’s what we do. But honestly, that book provided me with a decent few hours of non-stop laughs and then crying so hard that it felt like my heart was going to eject itself from my chest. In a good way, though. Trust me. And in so many ways, The Haters was exactly the same. It was filled with the same humour as in Me and Earl and beneath the wit and sarcasm lay messages of the importance of friendship and finding love not necessarily in other people, but mostly in yourself.
The humour in this novel was probably its defining feature. Of course, this book is brilliant in many ways, but it is Jesse Andrew’s unique sense of humour that makes this book really extraordinary. I’m not exaggerating to say that there’s not another book out there like this one. Oh wait, there is. Me and Earl. But what I mean is – there’s no other book by any other author quite like this one. Not that I’ve read, anyway. And I don’t think there would be. Andrews’ writing style is unlike anything I’ve ever come across before. He incorporates several forms of writing to make up this book, including everything from lists to fake Wikipedia entries to movie script-like dialogue. His zany energy radiated out from the pages, and caused me to smile until my face hurt.
However, I did think that Andrews could be seen to take his humour too far. I feel like there’s a limit to how many “d*ck harm” jokes you can make on one page. If you’re not a fan of male juvenile humour, I suggest maybe giving this one a miss. I’m not really into that kind of “potty humour” either, but I felt as though the rest of the novel compensated for my lack of enjoyment at reading these types of jokes. And to be fair, Andrews was trying to make the book feel as though it was told from an authentic male, teenage voice. I mean, I don’t know. Was it authentic? I’m not a teenage male and therefore I’m not 100% sure on that point, but it definitely felt plausible. Put it this way – it’s not like I couldn’t imagine boys acting that way. Not stereotyping here, just saying that a portion of the male species in their teenage years may have acted in similar ways to the characters in this novel. And let’s not forget Andrews was a teenager once, too. Gosh, I’d love to know what he was like as a teenager.
Although this book was mostly lighthearted, there were definitely some times when I felt as though it was quite heartfelt and profound. There were a few parts in this novel that discussed some relatively deep topics, and I felt as though this was needed to create more of a shift between the lighthearted moments and those where readers would gain a better understanding into the characters and their past, their motivations and their aspirations. And the humour helped us to understand Wes more and the type of person he was. I particularly loved exploring the friendship between Wes and Corey in this novel and found that their struggles as teenagers were quite universal and it allowed me to connect to them both, despite seemingly having nothing in common with them.
Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was how the majority of it was a road trip. That meant that the characters were always on the move and seeing different places and the people in these places was very entertaining. I also felt inspired to go on a road trip while I was reading this book, longing to have the same freedom as these three (sometimes more) characters. The change in scenery was always really well-depicted and I could clearly visualise the places Wes and Corey were in. Even though I’ve never done a road trip around America, I honestly felt as though I was there with Wes, smelling the lingering scents from the Chinese restaurant and the distinguishable smell of used cars. In a way, this was a more “masculine”, more “potty humour” version of Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. And with less cutesy romance.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t really connect to Ash all that well. There was something off about her. I understand that she was angry at her parents for her upbringing and was rebelling against that, but I would have liked to understand her a bit more. I felt as though that aspect of this novel didn’t get explored as much as I would have liked it to and I really wanted to see the vulnerable side to her, however I felt as though I didn’t really get that opportunity.
Overall, I found The Haters to be quite an enjoyable read. There were some things I didn’t particularly love about it, but there were a lot of things that I did. The humour, surprisingly, was both my favourite and least favourite part of the novel. In most cases, it provided just the right amount of wit and sarcasm to make me laugh unashamedly, but in others, Andrews took it just a little too far. I guess humour is all subjective though, so if this sounds like the type of book you’d be interested in reading, I definitely suggest you pick it up! I’d give The Haters by Jesse Andrews a score of 8 out of 10. Have you read this one yet? Have you read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? What do you think of Jesse Andrews’ humour? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!