“Corey and Wes are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – who cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. Convinced that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters Summer of Hate tour.”
I was a pretty big fan of Jesse Andrews’ last book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It was a pretty familiar/popular topic at the time (probably owing a lot to The Fault in our Stars) but it was fresh and funny. I went into The Haters expecting something that had a similar vibe, except less bittersweet. I was right and wrong at the same time.
This novel is a lot more generic than his debut. If I had a pound for every book or film I’d heard of that was based around a group of people road tripping, or starting a band, I think I’d be rich. The only thing that really sets this novel apart from the others is Jesse Andrews’ writing style, which is actually quite distinctive. There’s lots of deadpan humour in the novel, and although he doesn’t do anything original or inventive with the formula, the jokes are frequent enough to keep it entertaining.
The problem with this book is the lack of narrative depth. It’s a very breezy read, and if you pick this novel up cheaply somewhere, you’ll most likely get your money’s worth. But there’s nothing in it which merits multiple readings. In the future, I think Jesse Andrews needs to take into account that humour alone isn’t what makes a good novel. The characters need to adopt a new worldview by the end, or go through some kind of change for the experience of reading it to be worth it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t repeat that with his second novel.