Based on the previous books I blogged regarding school shootings, I was asked to read and review Project X by Jim Shepard. While the other books dealt with the aftermath of a school shooting and focused on the victims, this book dealt with the events leading up to the shooting and the shooters.
Edwin and his best friend Flake are in the eigth grade and have the attitude that they hate life and everyone is against them, which seems to be the case. Their attitude gets them in trouble at school and they end up beaten up more times than they deserve. This culmunated to the point that they can't take it anymore and decide to take action and shoot up the school. Edwin, the narrator is more of a passive character. He does not go out and pick fights, but yet he gets into them. He tries to mind his own business, but that doesn't mean he avoids backtalking in class. True, his teachers are against him which seems a little more dramatic than realistic. It's hard to tell if he cares about anything because one moment he's bonding with his brother, and the next he's passive towards his family. Come the final moment, the shooting, his passivitiy takes flight as he's thrown into another situation where he doesn't have enough ambition to perform.
The characters all seemed flat. Part of this comes from the fact that Edwin tells the story and as an eight grader, his insights are limited. There's no description and the main characters are barely, if ever, developed. I think you're supposed to sympathize with him, but I found him annoying. As much as he hates life and believes the world is against him, he thrives on it seeing as he doesn't take any action to change it. Everything, though, seemed very minimal and underdeveloped. There could have been a stronger portrayal of his struggles of his emotions whereas I just saw him as a whiny kid that even I wanted to beat up. The book clung too much to the stereotypical school shooter as abusive and negative and I personally would have like to see it expand beyond that and to create a character I cared about, a character I wanted to come ahead and get justice for his ill-treatment. Seeing as this focused on the shooter, I wanted to be on his side (as bad as that might sound but he's the character I'm supposed to be connecting with). Sadly, that didn't happen.