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Today I am going to be reviewing The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I have to be honest that before picking up this book, I didn’t believe the hype. I assumed the book would be good, but the sad reality is that when books display difficult issues and diversity (like the ones shown here), reviews often get inflated. People think that just because the book discusses diversity it is bound to be life-changing, which is entirely contradictory to the whole publishing diversity movement. The point is for diverse books to be viewed as normal, which doesn’t often happen. With this book, I can resoundingly say it deserves all the hype and more. Beyond just being a good book with an impactful reading experience, this is the kind of book I know will stay with me for a long time and has truly changed the way I view my world.
From the first couple of sentences, it was clear to me that narration style was shockingly distinct and fitting for a teenager. I immediately got a grasp of who the protagonist was and a deep sense of her personality. Thomas definitely knows how to make use of first person narration. The protagonist provides insightful comments and it’s easy to imagine to story coming directly from her consciousness, not as if it were being relayed by a writer.
The dialogue was strikingly natural. I’m about the protagonist’s age, so I can vouch that Thomas nails exactly the way we speak to superiors vs. friends. To repeat what I have stressed before in this review, the dialogue has a certain authenticity to it that makes it difficult to believe someone made it up and wrote it down.
One of the most important things that was done was how Thomas handled different perspectives. While there was a debate over right and wrong (as should be expected), the situation was made much more gray than I would have thought possible. I was admittedly able to relate to characters who were prejudiced and uninformed and the fact that Thomas was able to make me critically examine how I consume and share information was incredible. With YA books, regardless of genre, I have always strongly believed that it is important for the reader to be able to take something important away to apply to their own lives without that message being shoved down their throats. The targeted teen audience are at such critical points in their lives, and when author’s utilize the influence they have over this impressionable audience, I am always impressed.
The character development was beautiful. Like I spoke about with the narration style, there was something distinctly teenage-like about the way Thomas writes. I was able to recognize myself and my peers in the ways the characters struggled to come to terms with a variety of issues. With teenagers, there is always a sense of all problems, even small ones, becoming all consuming. Once you combine that with the need to be understood, you can understand why teenagers find it difficult to be decisive, even when making decisions quickly. They will grapple with those ideas for a long time due to possible insecurities. I know that sounded quite high and mighty, but it’s true, and Thomas was able to perfectly nail those feelings, resulting in characters that developed in ways recognizable to the target audience.
I’m not signaling out the romance here to go on about whether it was swoon-worthy or whether the characters had chemistry. I’m devoting a whole section to give props to Thomas for writing a wildly popular YA novel with light, carefully placed romance. It was present without being all-consuming. The story is so much more than the romantic feelings between certain characters and focusing on a teenage relationship as if the characters were madly in endgame-style love would be an unrealistic disservice to the story.
This novel was better than I ever imagined and will definitely be placed on my favorites shelf. It’s an indisputable 5 stars. I would urge everyone to read this book, especially teenagers. Don’t let all the hype deter you. Yes, the book does have strong messages, however it’s not preachy and it informs you to form a complex, valid opinion. At risk of being idealistic, I will say that in this world it’s important we are all informed and this book made me totally reconsider why that is so important.
Thank you for reading my review and I hope you will join me again as we go off to amazing places.