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“But I seem to do it all the time with people. I read a little bit of their lives and think I know them. Or worse yet, judge them entirely by the cover. We all do it, I guess. We buy into whatever story makes us feel better about our own,” Alice. –Shooter
by Caroline Pignat
Following the lives of five high school students that were trapped in a horrific high school shooting, Shooter is called the modern-day Breakfast Club. Alice is a shy, introverted writer who spends a lot of time worrying about her autistic big brother, Noah. Isabelle is the perfect egomaniac princess who seems to run the school and have a perfect life. Hogan is the giant, scary ex-football player who gave up on life after his brother’s death. Xander is the awkward student photographer who has a hard time understanding other people. These five students would never, ever be friends with each other.
But when a lockdown drill starts, they are forced to hide in a bathroom, where they realize their pasts are all intertwined in some way. Locked in a room with no way out, they gain an understanding of one another and start to care for each other. However, everything is thrown for a twist when Isabelle receives a text that the lockdown is not a drill—there is a live shooter on campus. When things cannot seem to get worse, they discover the shooter has planted a bomb on campus and plans to blow up the whole student body. They have to stop him before time runs out!
Shooter is about who the main characters really are versus how others perceive them. Isabelle seems to be a perfect princess, but after her trip to the Dominican Republic she hates how materialistic her life has become. Alice may appear like a successful writer with a great future ahead of her, but she worries about leaving her brother when she goes to college. Hogan might seem hateful and violent but deep down he still has not gotten over his brother’s death. Xander does not mean to be awkward, mean, or insensitive, and in actuality is very kind and thoughtful. The author even develops the character of Maxwell, the school shooter, by giving him a backstory and personality—rather than just leaving him as an undeveloped, evil villain. With this, Pignat teaches readers that everyone has a past that has shaped who they are and that we should get to know people before we start to judge them.
Pignat’s use of prose, poetry, text messages, journals, and homework assignments perfectly show the characters’ different points of view. Readers will find they have a lot in common with the characters as they watch them struggle to overcome their problems. However, the book is about a school shooting, a touchy subject in today’s times, and is not an easy read because of the amount of violence in the novel. However, with the engaging characters, it is a good read and may help readers better understand self-identity and social problems. Readers who enjoyed Shooter may also want to read This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp.
- At the party, Hogan and Izzy kissed. Hogan thinks, “Man, she was beautiful. Hair swept high in a ponytail, firelight glowing on the curve of her neck. Her face warm. And her eyes dark and sparkling as she smiled. I just wanted to kiss her—and the next thing, I did. Isabelle Parks—the girl every guy wanted.”
- Izzy finds out that her boyfriend, Darren Greene, is cheating on her when she sees an Instagram photo of him making out with her best friend Bri. In the Instagram photo, “he has her up against the doorframe, one hand pulling up her shirt, the other hiking up her leg while she runs her fingers through his hair.”
- Xander helps Maxwell with one of his pranks. They move Mr. Quigley’s lab skeleton into a sexual position where it was jerking off with a pretend penis made out of a graduated cylinder.
- When Isabelle finds Hogan on top of Alice, trying to help with after she bumped her head, Isabelle screams “get off of her! Get off of her right now, you perv!” Isabelle then thrusts her knee hard into his side.
- As Alice and Hogan leave the safety of the bathroom, an explosive “BANG-BANG-BANGBANG!” causes everyone to cower in fear. The shooter is right outside the bathroom door.
- In the locker room, Hogan and his brother, Randy, made fun of each other for playing badly during the game. The two brothers wrestle and fight just like they had when they were little kids. Hogan swept Randy’s legs out from under him, and Randy fell back off the bench, back into the lockers, slamming his head against the corner of the one Hogan had left open. “A dark gash on the side of his head oozed red. It ran into a sticky puddle that spilled wider and wider with every second.” Randy dies. The fight takes place over two pages.
- Noah freaks out from being confined to the bathroom too long. “Like a tornado of fists and spit as his arms windmill around him like crazy propellers. Alice tries to step back, but there isn’t anywhere else to go. The broom wedges under the sink and Noah’s next swing catches her smack in the face, sending her staggering back, and she falls to the ground.” Hogan tackles Noah to the ground where he stops fighting. The scene takes place over two pages.
- Xander shoots Hogan with a paintball gun, and Noah hits Xander in the head with his broom handle to prevent him from shooting Isabelle and Alice.
- Maxwell is planting a bomb and is going to use a fake fire to lure everyone to the atrium where he will detonate it. The group of kids discovers Maxwell’s outline for Operation Resolution. It’s a drawing where “the ground isn’t ground exactly, but arms, legs, severed heads with Xs for eyes. Pieces in puddles. Each of them named.”
- The school police officer grabs Hogan and “wrenches my arms back in some cop-hold.”
- While everyone is gathered in the atrium, Maxwell uses a drone and paintball gun to shoot people. “CRACK-CRACK-CRACK!” People are hysterical.
- The police surround Noah who has a broom handle in his hand. The police shoot at Noah, but Hogan pushes him out of the way and takes the bullet himself. Alice puts pressure against the wound. After being shot, Hogan is wounded and “a whole five inches below his collarbone bubbles and oozes a dark red that puddles beside him. Blood–not pain.”
- Xander finds the bomb suspended on some wires above the atrium. When he climbs on the wire to get it, Maxwell’s drone swats at him, trying to knock him off. Maxwell disables the bomb but when he does the wire snaps. “There is no blast. Just a sickening—CRACK!—as Xander” crashes to the floor.
- After Maxwell’s bomb is defused, Maxwell kills himself. “On the second floor, in the room above the mural, a light flashes as one final shot rings out. Then all is silent.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Isabelle asked if a boy drugged Alice with “roofies or something?”
- Hogan smokes in the bathroom. “The Hulk yanks off his furry mitt and plucks the smoking cigarette left balanced on the edge of the porcelain urinal.”
- Isabelle suggests that the secretaries are “probably ‘hiding’ in the staff room cracking open their TGIF wine.”
- Xander’s “mom’s Matinée cigarette” started the house fire. Xander was woken up by the fire alarm and managed to save some of his mom’s important things such as “her big red purse, her near-empty bottle of Jackson-Triggs wine, her pack of Matinée cigarettes.”
- Profanity is used frequently. Profanity includes: hell, ass, crap, God, bastard, numbnuts, crotch, and dick.
- Hogan says its “hotter than hell” in the mascot suit.
- When Hogan starts to smoke, Isabelle asks, “Still the badass, Hogan?” Hogan replies, “Still the bitch, Izzy?”
- Hogan doesn’t want to go to the “dumbass pep rally” and is thankful for the lockdown.
- Hogan says he is “done with that crap. Just so you know” in reference to his smoking.
- After Hogan’s brother’s death, Coach Dufour tries to kick Hogan “in the ass a few times” in order to get Hogan back in shape.
- Izzy looks at Hogan with a face that says “God, you’re an idiot.”
- Izzy says Hogan’s been “an angry ass since Randy died.”
- Hogan thinks he is a “stone-cold bastard” for not crying over his own brother’s death.
- On one of Xander’s missions with Maxwell, Maxwell holds one of his smoke bombs “against his crotch and told me to check out his foil dick.”
- Hogan asks the school shooter, “What do you numbnuts have planned?”
- Xander knows that “stealing and lying is wrong. That’s even in the Bible.”
by Matthew Perkey