Mercy Rule
Danny's parents yanked him from the art school that let him wear a kilt and listen to bands that no one's heard of. Now he's starting sophomore year at the public high school--the one with the gymnasium at the heart of the building and the glorified athletes who rule it all. The smart thing would be to blend in, but Danny has always been about making statements.Brady just wants to get out. Go to college, play football, maybe reach the NFL. He definitely wants to stop waiting for his deadbeat mother to come home, sleeping on park benches, and going to bed hungry. But first he has to lead the team to the championships. It all adds up to a lot of stress. So who can really blame him when he and the football team turn their aggressions on the new freak? Even the quarterback needs to blow off steam sometimes.Coach turns a blind eye to his players' crimes--because this year, they're going to States. But maybe if Coach had paid more attention they could've caught it before it all happened. Maybe it could've been avoided.Maybe.With quick cuts between a large cast of unforgettable characters, and razor-sharp plotting, Tom Leeven takes readers on a countdown to an inevitable, horrifying act. This gripping novel offers an intense, smart perspective on the tragic, toxic mindsets behind the celebrated American sport and the monsters it creates.

Mercy Rule Details

TitleMercy Rule
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 20th, 2018
PublisherSky Pony Press
ISBN-139781510726987
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, Sports and Games, Sports, High School, Realistic Fiction, Teen

Mercy Rule Review

  • Stephanie Elliot
    January 1, 1970
    So I don't even know where to start. Normally, a book about this kind of topic is a bit scary, but Tom Leveen hits it out of the park with Mercy Rule, which I think is his best yet of all that I've read from him. He has an incredible ability to create very real characters, and although this book has a lot of what I would call main characters, he makes it easy to 'see' each individual. The chapters were tight, the storyline was suspenseful, and the situations were extremely true to what I imagine So I don't even know where to start. Normally, a book about this kind of topic is a bit scary, but Tom Leveen hits it out of the park with Mercy Rule, which I think is his best yet of all that I've read from him. He has an incredible ability to create very real characters, and although this book has a lot of what I would call main characters, he makes it easy to 'see' each individual. The chapters were tight, the storyline was suspenseful, and the situations were extremely true to what I imagine kids in high school deal with. It is a tragic yet beautiful story. I fell in love with so many characters. Your heart will break for Danny. You will laugh at Cadence and her sweet innocence. You will hope for good things for Drea. You'll even have compassion for the 'athleaders' in the story. It reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why in the sense that there's bullying, school drama, etc. and I can very much see this as a TV show or movie. It's a tough read, especially toward the end, but the message is clear, and it would do high schoolers well to read this book.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    This has been a highly anticipated read of mine since I discovered it at the end of last year on GR. I was so excited to grab my copy when it released – but I’m left with mixed feelings. I loved the idea behind this book and the different societal issues it represents, but I feel like it could have been better. There’s a lot I want to say and I don’t want to give out spoilers, so some parts might seem a little vague.What I liked about this book was the fact that it focused on the build up toward This has been a highly anticipated read of mine since I discovered it at the end of last year on GR. I was so excited to grab my copy when it released – but I’m left with mixed feelings. I loved the idea behind this book and the different societal issues it represents, but I feel like it could have been better. There’s a lot I want to say and I don’t want to give out spoilers, so some parts might seem a little vague.What I liked about this book was the fact that it focused on the build up toward the crime that was committed. It showed off a variety of different reasons as to why the character did what they did (I don’t want to give away who). Leveen also did a great job of showing the signs of what wa going to happen and who was going commit the crime from the beginning.I liked the fact that the characters never saw the signs, but w as outsiders (readers) do because that’s how it usually happens in real life. I often read book based on this subject matter and it usually focuses on the event itself or the aftermath, so it was a refreshing change to focus on what happens before hand and the fact that everyone processes things in a different way.I also feel that Leveen did a great job in showing a variety of different issues that led up to what happened at the end. A lot of boson this subject matter focus on one particular issue and call it a day – which I don’t think is a fair representation. Leveen managed to intertwine every aspect of a persons life to really show how far someone gets pushed before they do the unthinkable – drugs, mental issues that were not properly dealt with and cared for, familial issues, school issues etc.I have mixed feelings about the multiple POV’s. I liked the fact that Leveen used multiple POV’s to really represent what was going on. He showed the idea that everyone is different and that everyone has a different breaking point. The multiplePOVs managed to paint a bigger picture and really show what was happening and why the character ultimately does what they do. I liked the idea that, whilst a lot of the issues (not all, but most) seemed like mundane issues to me, they aren’t to someone else – again reinforcing the idea that everyone reacts to things differently. I also liked the idea behind having POVs from characters who didn’t have anything to do with the character because it reinforced the ending and the way in which people can et caught up in things that have nothing to do with them though no fault of their own.Having said that, I also feel that there were too many POV’s. Whilst I liked the idea of showing what the crime can really do to other people and the way in which it weaved itself into the aftermath etc. I would have liked to have had the focus completely on the person who committed the crime – both from their POV (which we got) as well as the POVs from the people who interacted with him, both good and bad. I feel that the other POV s who had nothing to do with the end game, and only really came into play when everything was said and done, distracted from the character and the snowball effect that was going on.The multiple POVs also served to keep the reader as an outsider looking in. I liked the fact that this book had me sympathising with the characters – including the person who committed the crime. I felt sorry for all of them a one point or another and there were times where I would laugh with them etc. Having said that, I was still an outsider looking in as opposed to really connected to the characters as I usually am. Usually this would bother me, but I liked the effect it had on me as a reader. It represented what a lot of us actually are when things like this happen in real life – we’re outsiders looking in, we relate to the people who have gone through something that horrific and we sympathise with them. What this book does which we don’t usually consider, is show us the other side. I sympathised throughout the book with the person who committed the crime. I felt angry for them and I was upset with everything that was going on. I felt conflicted when they did what they did because I know that its wrong and its something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone… but I also understand why they did what they did and how the ended up at that point.The book also left me feeling like I had failed the character themselves. Whilst I saw the signs from very early on and knew what was going to happen by the end based on those signs, it never clicked who the character actually was until the end. I feel like I should have maybe guessed it before it was revealed. I loved the way that Leveen weaved this story and the way in which he kept the true characters identity hazy until the very final pages. It brought the story together a lot more.I also liked the way in which sports was added into the story. I liked the way in which the wrong doings of those in the sport – including the coach – wove into what happened at the end. It really highlighted a societal issue that still goes on today in the idea that sports people really do get away with a lot more because of their status and the idea that people don’t want to ruin their futures. Having said that,I would have liked maybe more of an explanation to the Mercy Rule and the way in which it contributed the story. WhilstI googled and it was also explained in the book at some point, I still don’t really understand what it has to do with the story itself.All in all, I enjoyed this book. This book intertwined a lot of different factors and reasons and really showed the snowball effect of what a persons actions can do to another person. I liked the psychology behind everything that was going on and the way in which sports was woven into the story. It really showed the idea that people in sports have a lot more influence that most and that they should be role models to people because of the amount of ‘power’ they have in every day lives. This book had me thinking about it long after it was over. I gave this book 4.5/5 stars.
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  • Jenn Lopez
    January 1, 1970
    Talk about timely... Although I am NOT a fan of alternating POV, I really liked this book. The dialogue and events were realistic. I really like the ending not knowing exactly who is still alive/ who's dead until the very, very end.
  • Lizzy Lan
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a must-read! It is timely, well-written, and so so important. The book follows the lives of several teenagers as they deal with struggles both at school and at home, interweaving their stories while leading up to one horrifying act. There are multiple POVs in this book, and the author does such a great job with all of the characters. They remind me so much of kids from my high school, I felt like I was right back there with them. I grew to care about and root for all of the characte This book is a must-read! It is timely, well-written, and so so important. The book follows the lives of several teenagers as they deal with struggles both at school and at home, interweaving their stories while leading up to one horrifying act. There are multiple POVs in this book, and the author does such a great job with all of the characters. They remind me so much of kids from my high school, I felt like I was right back there with them. I grew to care about and root for all of the characters, even the one who ends up being the shooter. The plot was full of twists and turns, right up to the end, I couldn’t put it down. This book is a tough, yet important read that reveals what many teens are going through, and shows how easily things can spiral out of control and lead to the unthinkable.
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  • Khepre
    January 1, 1970
    This Pov style of story was excellent. Mercy Rule is timely to recent events and can give insight on how events negative and positive can play on someone life
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    I finished Mercy Rule almost a week ago and it's taken me that time to articulate my feelings about it. This book is Tom Leveen doing what Tom Leveen does best: writing in multiple voices about things that matter, not just to teenagers, but to everyone. As a teacher, I try to avoid books about school shootings. There's no good that comes from me reading about kids dying. But this book was worth the stress and tears. The story is told from multiple perspectives, both students and teachers. Leveen I finished Mercy Rule almost a week ago and it's taken me that time to articulate my feelings about it. This book is Tom Leveen doing what Tom Leveen does best: writing in multiple voices about things that matter, not just to teenagers, but to everyone. As a teacher, I try to avoid books about school shootings. There's no good that comes from me reading about kids dying. But this book was worth the stress and tears. The story is told from multiple perspectives, both students and teachers. Leveen has done a masterful job at providing reasons to empathize with each of the characters in their own way, even as the story barrels toward the inevitable violence. I have had every one of these students in class sometime in the last 14 years, and I worried about each one of them and what their outcome would be. I was hooked until the very end, and even when I finished, I couldn't stop thinking about it.I'm still going to avoid school shooting books, but I also am still going to recommend this wholeheartedly.
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  • Sally Kruger
    January 1, 1970
    In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this new release by author Tom Leveen provides a powerful read that should be shared with teens and adults alike. The story it tells reinforces the fact that every school is made up of a vast variety of individuals each with their own backgrounds and issues. As human beings we need to be more conscious of our interactions as we go about our daily lives. One supposedly innocent comment or act could be the trigger for someone dealing with mo In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this new release by author Tom Leveen provides a powerful read that should be shared with teens and adults alike. The story it tells reinforces the fact that every school is made up of a vast variety of individuals each with their own backgrounds and issues. As human beings we need to be more conscious of our interactions as we go about our daily lives. One supposedly innocent comment or act could be the trigger for someone dealing with more than we could ever imagine.MERCY RULE takes readers into a typical high school. The students come in all shapes and sizes with a multitude of personalities. The jocks or athleaders as they are known in this particular school are looked up to as role models, but some of them are anything but. There are students striving to be at the top academically no matter who they have to trample on to get there. There are the lowly freshmen longing to find their niche or at least someone to invite them to sit at their lunch table. The stoners, the drama nerds, the misfits, and all the rest combine to make up a world in which nice words and respectful behavior are not the norm.This reader was drawn immediately into the lives of the characters as view points switched every few pages. For some characters there was instant understanding and for others instant dislike. Knowing that tragedy was eventually going to strike, judgements were made about who was who and the role each would play, but Tom Leveen's plot doesn't always follow a predictable course which elicited a significant number of surprised gasps as I read.Overall, I believe this is the most powerful YA novel involving a school shooting that I have read. Leveen captures the normalcy of the school setting and the naivety of many of the players when it comes to predicting a tragedy of this kind. No one ever imagines that someone they know could be capable of this horror, but therein lies the problem that we must somehow solve.
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  • Traci Avalos
    January 1, 1970
    Tom Leveen nailed this book. I've been waiting for another multi-POV book from him since I read PARTY, and this one does not disappoint. The characterization was amazing. As a teacher, I see these kids in my classroom everyday. This was a tough read, an excellent read, but more importantly, a necessary read to understand what America's teens are dealing with.
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  • Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)
    January 1, 1970
    I decided to read this book well before I knew that it was going to be coming out right as another horrific school shooting took place in America. It seems like that might be the best time to read a book like this because it gives you insight into the issue. But honestly?? It felt emotionally harder to read this book as my mind kept drifting towards real-life events, and I just felt sad and empty.Real-life situations aside, the book itself was good. I'm a big Tom Leveen fan, having read and love I decided to read this book well before I knew that it was going to be coming out right as another horrific school shooting took place in America. It seems like that might be the best time to read a book like this because it gives you insight into the issue. But honestly?? It felt emotionally harder to read this book as my mind kept drifting towards real-life events, and I just felt sad and empty.Real-life situations aside, the book itself was good. I'm a big Tom Leveen fan, having read and loved Party and Zero, so I was really hyped to see he had a new book coming out. He's definitely a fan of the multiple perspectives, and I think this time he went a tad too far. I had trouble keeping them straight and I didn't think the voices sounded all that different from each other. Or different enough anyway. A lot of the teens in this book were younger (9th grade), and I did appreciate that they came off as young.There were a lot of issues in this book, but unlike the too many perspectives, this made the book stronger. One of the characters is a cutter, one has a mom that is an addict, and one has parents that just don't "get" him. There's a suicide attempt, drug use, bullying, naked pictures, and sports & school pressures. It all kind of made for a pressure cooker that leads to a horrifying event.The hardest part: You guys, we read from the school shooter's perspective during this book and it is HARD. You get to know him and his thoughts and feelings, and you're probably not going to hate him. I wouldn't say this book sympathizes with the shooter, but I would say that it makes it clear that it's all complicated. People who do bad things aren't always bad through and through, and some of them are people that are in a lot of pain. But being that this book came out so close to a major incident, it was hard for me to find myself having positive feelings of any sort towards someone who hurts innocent people.My favorite parts: I loved Cadence and her ability to be positive and want to help people. I loved the friendship she forged with 2 troubled boys-- and they were better for it. I loved her ability to flit from group to group and brush it off when people made her feel unwanted. She was a shining star in this book. I also really liked the play aspect and wish that they actually got to put on Hamlet. It was cool to see how something like an after-school activity can be the thing to help someone who might be feeling lost.OVERALL: This was a tough one. It's timely, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it's different for everybody. I love Tom Leveen's ability to tell a story through multiple people, but I was wishing there were fewer characters in this book. I did like reading about all the different backgrounds and issues each character was going through though. I cautiously recommend, but be mentally ready for this before you dive in.My Blog:Pink Polka Dot Books
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  • Olivia Fishwick
    January 1, 1970
    This is the best YA I've read in a looooong time. It's smart. I mean it's *really* smart. Its structure is smart, its narrative is smart, its characters are smart, its portrayal of high school is smart. This book and its characters are genuine. No one in this story is "evil" or one-sided. This story is real, but more importantly it's *fair*, and that's what makes the events in it so profoundly painful and hard to swallow. This book also got me to cry more genuinely than any other book I've read This is the best YA I've read in a looooong time. It's smart. I mean it's *really* smart. Its structure is smart, its narrative is smart, its characters are smart, its portrayal of high school is smart. This book and its characters are genuine. No one in this story is "evil" or one-sided. This story is real, but more importantly it's *fair*, and that's what makes the events in it so profoundly painful and hard to swallow. This book also got me to cry more genuinely than any other book I've read in recent memory. I finished it not long ago and keep having sporadic emotional attacks. We're talking big impact here, folks. On the writer's side, Leveen does a great job of using structure and format to build a growing sense of inevitably. The things that happen in this story feel truly unstoppable--and yet, when the major crisis actually takes place, the reader is compelled to spend the entire time looking for a possible way out. In other words, it's inevitable right up until it happens, at which point it just becomes random agonizing chaos. And that, I assert, is part of its intentions. I didn't give a 5 because I almost never give 5s. And I think there's a couple logic-based parts of this book that someone could reasonably complain about. My qualms on that end are extremely minor, though. I'm dismayed to discover, upon Googling this book, that it's actually extremely difficult to find. Which says a lot about its current level of popularity. So PR this. Get it out there. Read it, carry it around, shitpost about it on Facebook. This book is meaningful, and painful, and meaningfully painful, and it needs attention. "We don't have to live like this."
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  • Tam Chronin
    January 1, 1970
    So. I finished this at about 2pm. It's been a good four hours. And I am still recovering.I'm not going to give any spoilers. Instead, I'm just going to say that you should read it. Like all of Tom Leveen's works, this is a page-turner I couldn't put down, and time completely passed unnoticed while I was absorbed in the lives of the kids, and my own memories of what it was like to be that age.It's a timely book, which once upon a time would have been remarkable since the subject matter is a schoo So. I finished this at about 2pm. It's been a good four hours. And I am still recovering.I'm not going to give any spoilers. Instead, I'm just going to say that you should read it. Like all of Tom Leveen's works, this is a page-turner I couldn't put down, and time completely passed unnoticed while I was absorbed in the lives of the kids, and my own memories of what it was like to be that age.It's a timely book, which once upon a time would have been remarkable since the subject matter is a school shooting. Now, it's just a sad commentary on society that no matter when this book had come out, there'd be a mass murder, a school shooting, fresh in our mass consciousness.It's easy to be trite and preach down to kids when trying to teach a less on to teenagers in prose form. I've seen so many of those I hesitate to read YA novels about social issues, but Tom has never let me down. It's not about the lesson. He writes with compassion and a real feeling of "been there, done that, and listened to people who are in the trenches right now." He treats teenagers like human beings, not "characters" in his books. They're real. They're flawed. They're me. They're you. They're all of us. And we're all hurting, and all groping in the dark for someone to cling to, someone to save us, or someone to help. And that's what I love about his YA novels, every last one of them.And that's why this one killed me. It hurt so much to read, but I've needed a catharsis since the last shooting on Valentine's day, and this book delivered.Read it. Trust me. You want this book.
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  • Tabatha Shipley
    January 1, 1970
    What would drive a person to open fire on a group of people seemingly at random? Could the action have been stopped?I knew, based on what I choose to do for a living, that this would be a tough one to read. I read it anyway. It was so much more than I expected. I can't remember the last time a book brought me to tears; I don't cry. I literally had to put this one down to cry MORE THAN ONCE.This book is SO important. This book is, unfortunately, relevant. This book is AMAZING.This is a keeper. I' What would drive a person to open fire on a group of people seemingly at random? Could the action have been stopped?I knew, based on what I choose to do for a living, that this would be a tough one to read. I read it anyway. It was so much more than I expected. I can't remember the last time a book brought me to tears; I don't cry. I literally had to put this one down to cry MORE THAN ONCE.This book is SO important. This book is, unfortunately, relevant. This book is AMAZING.This is a keeper. I'm putting it on the shelf. I'm reading it again. I'm telling you all to READ IT. I don't care what genre you normally read. READ THIS.5 smiles because it's the max I give around here. A wink because WHOA. A tear, which you know is rare if you follow the blog. This book has it all.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    Omfg
  • B220
    January 1, 1970
    I've read, blogged, and loved a bunch of Tom Leveen's books before (Random, Sick, Party, and his chapter in Violent Ends). But never have I loved one of his books like I loved Mercy Rule. Perhaps it's because I am a teacher or perhaps it is because the topic and occurrence of school shootings is so prevalent these days, I don't know. But this book resonated with me on so many levels.Told in alternating perspectives of all types of high school kids with their own personal issues, Mercy Rule captu I've read, blogged, and loved a bunch of Tom Leveen's books before (Random, Sick, Party, and his chapter in Violent Ends). But never have I loved one of his books like I loved Mercy Rule. Perhaps it's because I am a teacher or perhaps it is because the topic and occurrence of school shootings is so prevalent these days, I don't know. But this book resonated with me on so many levels.Told in alternating perspectives of all types of high school kids with their own personal issues, Mercy Rule captures, I think, what is so wrong in so many different school environments. You have the haves and the have nots. You have the popular and the uncool. You have the kids who believe they are above it all and the kids who struggle daily just to get through the day unscathed. You have judgment and cliques and name-calling and the weight of expectations, both realistic and so past unrealistic it's baffling. No wonder why sometimes a young person breaks and sees no other way to handle all of that that they choose the most horrible of choices. It definitely should make one think; it should make us all think.I want my students to read this book. Hopefully it will make them think about and perhaps reconsider how they treat one another and just what the consequences of their actions just might end up being. One choice, one act, one word might be the thing that makes someone's day... or breaks their entire existence. Heavy stuff, right? Well good, because it is meant to be.
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  • John Clark
    January 1, 1970
    It is akin to sitting on top of a small mountain, watching various entities come closer to form a cosmic train wreck. Impossible not to watch, but with so sudden a climax that it can’t help but make you wince, it’s perhaps the best story told from multiple viewpoints I’ve ever read.Danny was loving the creativity and freedom of the art school he was attending. Then something happened that was seen the wrong way andhis father pulled him out, forcing him to go to public school. The only saving gra It is akin to sitting on top of a small mountain, watching various entities come closer to form a cosmic train wreck. Impossible not to watch, but with so sudden a climax that it can’t help but make you wince, it’s perhaps the best story told from multiple viewpoints I’ve ever read.Danny was loving the creativity and freedom of the art school he was attending. Then something happened that was seen the wrong way andhis father pulled him out, forcing him to go to public school. The only saving grace was meeting Cadence, an eternally optimistic freshman, who befriended him, but couldn’t like him in a romantic sense.Brady is a gifted quarterback whose home life alternates between a war zone and being nonexistent. All he wants is to go on to college, but first he has to survive long enough to get there. Unfortunately, he can’t refrain from inflicting his pain on others.Coach is willing to ignore things his players do because getting to the state championship is more important.There are connections between these characters and others that don’t become apparent until much later in the story. The author leads you through an extremely well crafted maze that sets you up to understand how and why the terrible events at the end of the story can happen and you’re likely to be emotionally invested in most of the players, strengthening the impact.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my! Can I just say that this was a heavy book! I cried through the whole last part. I’ll be honest at first I didn’t think this book was going to be good, but when I started it, the characters felt real. I just got sucked into the book and couldn’t put it down. I loved how the author had perspectives of many characters. I liked knowing what they were thinking at different points that lead up to the end. I have to say some authors don’t do well at writing books with heavy topics, but Tom Lev Oh my! Can I just say that this was a heavy book! I cried through the whole last part. I’ll be honest at first I didn’t think this book was going to be good, but when I started it, the characters felt real. I just got sucked into the book and couldn’t put it down. I loved how the author had perspectives of many characters. I liked knowing what they were thinking at different points that lead up to the end. I have to say some authors don’t do well at writing books with heavy topics, but Tom Leveen hit it out of the park. I’m still stunned. I highly recommend this book!
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    This book broke me a little bit. Makes me want to keep my child next to me forever and ever and never let her go to high school. And following Parkland so recently, this book made me think especially about the whys. The parents were less than perfect, as we all are. The kids were kids. The mean girl had a lot of pressure, the smart girl had a lot of conflict, the meatheads had issues beyond the surface, the nice girl just needed to be loved. The characters were real. I really liked this read.
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  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    I was a little iffy about this book when i first started reading it but it started to get better and better with every page. The characters were like-able and relatable for the most part. The Cadence character could sometimes be a little annoying but then again who wasn’t at 14? The author told a very beautiful yet tragic story of bullying not just from peers at school but from parents at home as well. Definitely worth a read
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  • Susie
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. That just about covers it! I especially liked being able to experience the violence from the POV of the perpetrator, which I know sounds weird, but which we never see/hear/feel. Very necessary read! Very timely and eerie in its arrival.
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Nobody realized the impact one picture on a phone can have. This story is told from multiple point-of-views. It is engaging and hard to put down. The alternating points of view allow for amazing character development. It is inevitable where the story is headed, but it is hard to stop reading.
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    IdkI debated between the 2 or 3. I enjoy a surprise, and this one got me, but I thought the shooting scenes were unrealistic.
  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Big fan of the altering POV
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Good read. Told from the perspective of several characters but each one was fully developed. The way they are tied together at the end of the story was amazing.
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