Period 8 by Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC provided by the publisher from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
In this full-length novel from Chris Crutcher, his first since the best-selling Deadline, the ultimate bully and the ultimate good guy tangle during Period 8.
Paul "the Bomb" Baum tells the truth. No matter what. It was something he learned at Sunday School. But telling the truth can cause problems, and not minor ones. And as Paulie discovers, finding the truth can be even more problematic. Period 8 is supposed to be that one period in high school where the truth can shine, a safe haven. Only what Paulie and Hannah (his ex-girlfriend, unfortunately) and his other classmates don't know is that the ultimate bully, the ultimate liar, is in their midst.
Terrifying, thought-provoking, and original, this novel combines all the qualities of a great thriller with the controversy, ethics, and raw emotion of a classic Crutcher story.
What I Liked:
I could immediately tell from the flowing style of writing of this book that this author is very experienced in writing, and can spin a tale precisely how he wanted it to be spun. I loved how this book was crafted, in terms of the plot, characters, definitely the descriptive scenes and dialogue. Mr. Crutcher did an excellent job with this book's overall structure.
The plot itself was not boring. This book is considered a thriller, I believe, and as it started to pick up, I could see how it would be labeled as a thriller. "The ultimate bully" is someone that readers can easily pick out, but it is what the person is doing that is difficult to decipher. The end of the book, the last, say, 25%, went by very quickly, as there was a plethora of action and points that needed to be resolved.
Paulie is a fabulous character. This book is predominately told him from point-of-view, in third person limited to him. We do get to see flashes of other people's points-of-view, especially as readers learn more about the hidden secrets of "the ultimate bully". He is a likable hero, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I totally felt bad for him, because of the repercussions of his actions in the beginning of the book. Then I would catch myself, and remind myself that I would never want anyone to do that to me. But still! I really like Paulie.
The supporting characters of Hannah, Justin, and Mr. Logs add excellent dimension to this book. Mr. Logs is the "Period 8" teacher, and he is an interesting character. He is the "mentor" archetype, and he is a constant, ever-present character that plays a pivotal role in this book. He's, um, very strange, but I can't see how the book would be anything without him. Hannah and Justin - they are not as dynamic in their role, but their parts in this story are pretty big as well.
I'll say that once I got into this book, I enjoyed it. The ending is pretty good, and it definitely leaves room for more books. I have no idea if this book is a standalone or part of a series.
What I Did Not Like:
There were several significant things that I did not enjoy. First, this book was slightly boring. Okay, a good amount of boring. I said earlier that the plot was not boring. That's true - the sequence of events were actually really interesting. But the transitioning between events, or just waiting for the events, was terribly boring. The opening 25%, and possibly more, was so hard to read. I found myself unwilling to keep reading. The beginning is confusing, and hard to get into and enjoy.
It wasn't until about 40% that the plot really moved. The previous part of the book was informational, and all about educating the reader on what Period 8 was, what Paulie did, who each character was. Really, it was a little extensive, and excessive. All of that information was not need, and this made the beginning very slow. I can understand why people did not finish this book, because you need to get past about 40% of this book to really get to the interesting part of the book.
Remember when I mentioned that Mr. Logs was strange? Yes, he is really weird. I mean, which teacher lets his female student come talk to him at midnight? Don't get me wrong, nothing of that nature happened, but do you understand the implications? Mr. Logs is pretty old! He's like, in his sixties, I believe? Which makes it even weirder that he and Paulie often go swimming together. Again, nothing of that nature is going on, but I do not know any teacher that would do anything like that with his current (or former) students.
I'm going to be honest: I was confused at several points of this book. And I was confused about major things, like what "the ultimate bully" was doing. Or what Mary Wells was doing. Of course, as readers, I don't think we were supposed to understand everything until the end. But here's the thing: even the end doesn't quite resolve everything. I was still confused at the end! From what I did understand, some aspects were wrapped up, and some characters got their "happy endings". But other major points were not resolved, or at least explained a little. Is this an opening for a sequel? Maybe. But I really think the author should have explained more at the end of the book, instead of spending so much space with the beginning.
Would I Recommend It:
I enjoyed this book, but it definitely is NOT for everyone. It's a good mystery one, but I have a feeling that many people won't be happy with the slow beginning and confusing end.
3 stars. I would definitely read the sequel of this book, if there is one. The open, non-resolved ending intrigued me, so I would interested in any follow-ups.