Don’t let the neon colors on the cover fool you. Shooter by Caroline Pignat is a suspenseful contemporary novel that will definitely change your outlook on life. Many say that the book had a similar mood of the popular eighties movie The Breakfast Club, which involves five stereotypical teens (the queen bee, the jock, the nerd, the basketcase, and the troublemaker) stuck in detention for one Saturday afternoon. Though these kids never talked to each other before, that day they learned they may have more in common and bonded over it. The story line is not too far from Shooter‘s.
A lockdown catches five grade 12 students by surprise and throws them together in the only unlocked room on that empty third floor wing: the boys’ washroom. They sit in silence, judging each other by what they see, by the stories they’ve heard over the years. Stuck here with them–could anything be worse?
There’s Alice: an introverted writer, trapped in the role of big sister to her older autistic brother, Noah.
Isabelle: the popular, high-achieving, student council president, whose greatest performance is her everyday life.
Hogan: an ex-football player with a troubled past and a hopeless future.
Xander: that socially awkward guy hiding behind the camera, whose candid pictures of school life, especially those of Isabelle, have brought him more trouble than answers.
Told in five unique voices through prose, poetry, text messages, journals, and homework assignments, each student reveals pieces of their true story as they wait for the drill to end. But this modern-day Breakfast Club takes a twist when Isabelle gets a text that changes everything: NOT A DRILL!! Shooter in the school!
Suddenly, the bathroom doesn’t seem so safe anymore. Especially when they learn that one of them knows more about the shooter than they realized…
What’s so great about Shooter?
I loved how the novel is written in the perspectives of all the main characters. That way, I learned everybody’s story and watched how they changed over the course of the story, even if it over a short span of time. The chapters where it was the autistic boy Noah’s turn to tell the story were displayed in an accurate way. Rather than showing us a chapter with coherent paragraphs as it did for others, were presented with images, procedures or words erratically placed on the page which showed how the world possibly worked and so the reader could understand his actions. I’ve read quite a few stories involving a character with a mental disability, but this was by far the best way I’ve seen it used in a novel.
Also, I didn’t only learn how Noah looked at life, but also how his condition affected his sister. I was never shown that side of stories with handicapped characters. Now I know it’s not just the person that is affected — it’s the family too.
Out of all the ensemble of characters, my favourite had to Xander because of his individuality expressed in the chapters in his perspective. In them were journal entries called “Social Autopsies”. He had his own style of writing that was abnormal but interesting to read. For example, the topic of one Social Autopsy was for him to explore and express his inner conflicts as concisely as he could. The part I absolutely loved was when he described his difficulty with girls:
I don’t know how to talk to girls.
I don’t get them
so I don’t get them.
But that’s okay because, like all strange and unusual creatures,
they both intrigue and terrify me.
Xander was the one who said the honest things people are afraid to confess. Many of the things he said made me rethink on certain aspects of life. Always what he said was simple, but deep. Just like the candid shots he took of everyone around the school. All were simple pics, yet they were “emotionally charged”. You felt something. Now I know if I want to be a great photographer, my pictures must be emotionally charged as well. Xander has taught me many things and that’s why I liked him the best.
All in all I give Shooter by Caroline Pignat a 4 out 5 star rating for its creativity, the suspense and those parts of the books that left me thinking “guess I should never judge a person by the rumours cause they could be the total opposite of what they really are”.
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