Wes and Corey are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – and cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. When Ash convinces them that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters 2016 Summer of Hate Tour.
Amid sneaking into seedy bars, evading their parents and the police, and spending every minute together in a makeshift tour bus, romance blossoms and bursts, and hygiene takes a back seat. Wes begins to realise the limitations of hating everything: it keeps you at a convenient distance from something, or someone, you just might love.
When you can find something to hate about every band, how do you make a sound you love?
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of The Haters. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I think a certain population of people will really love The Haters. I just didn’t happen to fall into that group. I couldn’t really connect with the characters or the humour in the book, and it all became a little bit flat and boring. Having said that, I absolutely hated Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Haters was a much better reading experience for me.
This book is about Wes, Corey and Ash who meet at a two-week jazz camp. None of them are actually into jazz and find the camp environment to be a bit stifling. Ash decides that the only way that they can be real musicians and play the music that they want to play is to go on a tour around the country. They have absolutely no plan and are absolutely terrible together as a band. Together, they travel around the country looking for new experiences and opportunities to show off their music. Now, this sounded like an amazing idea for a road trip book. It had the potential to be crazy, funny and exciting, but I found it to be kind of plotless. Almost nothing happens in this book! There’s lots of descriptions of travelling and of music but they hardly played any music at all. I felt like it was just pages and pages of dropping names of bands and talking about how great they were together and not actually that much music playing. I was baffled by the lack of practice and rehearsal. I mean, sure, let’s just go on tour and not practise together at all.
What we did get in this book were pages and pages of descriptions and jokes. Everything was described with unnecessary detail, including a pretty disturbing description of ‘dick harming’. I just felt like the book dragged on forever and at the end of it, I was left with nothing but a deep knowledge of how bad their car smelt and the names of a million bands that I’ve never heard of before. I didn’t understand a lot of the music references, and I’m sure that people who actually know about the things that are mentioned will love the book. But it just wasn’t for me and it came across as pretentious. I also couldn’t really connect with the humour and didn’t find the book to be that funny. People who are able to connect with the humour will absolutely love this novel because the jokes just run on for pages and pages. For those who don’t, there’s just not much to latch on to and it can be a pretty long journey to the end of the book… Having said that, I did find some parts to be funny but those were few and far between. There were lots and lots of dick jokes that I honestly just don’t find amusing at all.
The characters in this book reminded me a lot of the trio in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, with the two male best friends and the addition of a female friend. I did enjoy Wes, our main character, for the most part. Apart from all the dick jokes and him just acting like a ‘dude’, he wasn’t a bad character to read from. I enjoyed all of his insecurities and how he kept the group together, but he also frustrated me at times with some of his actions. The character that I had a huge problem with was Ash. She came across as extremely selfish and inconsiderate, and there wasn’t a single point in the book where I thought she had Wes and Corey’s best interests at heart.
The Haters was quite an easy book to read and was relatively fast-paced, apart from the long jokes and descriptions that I couldn’t care less about. I thought the formatting of the book was a bit odd though. The book switches constantly between normal prose and a script format. I didn’t really understand why the author chose to do this. It came across to me as lazy writing – like the author couldn’t be bothered to write proper sentences with proper punctuation anymore, and decided to just have dialogue in the format of a script. I understood the use of the script in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl since that book was about film-making, but there was really no reason to do it in this novel at all.
Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed with The Haters. It was definitely a step up from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for me, but there were too many elements that I either didn’t understand or didn’t like to convince me to pick up anything else by Jesse Andrews in the future.