The Haters

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
The Haters Book Poster Image
Fun band road-trip story, but crass humor wears thin.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some information on musical genres and musicians. Story shows how playing music with other people works: figuring out timing, styles, beats, and so on.

Positive Messages

The book's positive messages are buried, but there are some overall positive themes: the importance of loyalty to friends and family; how to be a good friend; the importance of lowering your defenses and listening to what others have to say; and the need to take care of other people when they need it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the main characters are deeply flawed. Wes is the most positive role model of the bunch, in that he makes mature decisions (aside from the bad decision to run away) and looks out for his friends. Some of the people the teens encounter on their journey help them out -- for example, with food, a place to stay, and medical attention.

Violence

One of the characters gets a bad glass cut, and the description of pulling the glass out is graphic. A man shoots at a couple of people. A teen boy head-butts a man who has a gun and knocks him out.

Sex

Some kissing. Teen girl and boy sleep in the same bed but don't have sex. Another couple has oral sex. Girl grabs a boy's crotch. Two masturbation scenes. Lengthy discussion of oral sex and how to do it. Lots of talk about penises and erections. Couples make out and fondle each other in a hot tub. Descriptive sex scene. Lots of talk about sex.

Language

Frequent swearing by most of the characters, including "s--t" and its variations, "f--k" and its variations, "motherf--ker," "a--hole," "c--t," "d--k," "piss" and its variations, "ass," "butt," "bitch," "p---y," " damn," "hell," "God," "goddamned," "Christ," "jizz," "cooz," and "boobs."

Consumerism

Numerous music and pop culture references throughout the book. Music and video streaming apps mentioned: Rdio, Spotify, Grooveshark, and YouTube. Many products and services referred to by their brand names, including Citibank, Honda Accord, Jeep, Wikipedia, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram, Windows, Halo, Camel Lights, Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, Combos, Twizzlers, Airheads, Skittles, Mike and Ike, Gatorade, CVS, Blue Planet, NPR, ESPN, History Channel, FedEx, iPad, and Bose.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes of underage drinking, with teens getting drunk. Bartender serves underage kids alcohol, knowing they're not 21. All three kids smoke pot. Characters do things drunk and stoned they don't remember. The drinking and pot smoking isn't glorified, and the kids seem to learn a lesson.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Haters by Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) is a raunchy, rock-'n'-roll-road-trip story. Wes, Corey, and Ash escape jazz camp and hit the road, hoping to land some great gigs and be "real" musicians. As they drive around the South, they have some fun and some dangerous adventures. Most of the humor is crass, especially the pages of penis and sex jokes, which is probably a realistic depiction of how bands talk on the road. The kids have long, graphic discussions about sex. The story lightly dips its toe into the waters of race issues. (Wes is Venezuelan, and Ash is Brazilian on her father's side.) The teens get drunk and stoned. The dialogue has lots of frequent swearing and vulgar slang, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "bitch," and "jizz." The characters make questionable decisions throughout the book.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytobier January 16, 2017

The humor isn't for everyone

But if you like crass, crude, and uncomfortable humor, this is the book for you. Like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, there's not one you'd label as a... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byRavenclaw 17 February 5, 2018

Would be a good book... if it wasn't for the rape.

So, a lot of people reviewing this book don't seem to get how consent and sexual assault works. Be aware that the main character Wes is actually raped, and... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEdieeee August 29, 2018

Jesse Andrews mildly disappoints, again

I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl some time ago, and I thought it was very mediocre, at best. Then I saw this book and I was like, hey, I read his one book,... Continue reading

What's the story?

Wes and his friend Corey attend a highly respected jazz camp, only to realize immediately that they hate the camp and most of the other campers. But that's what they do best together: hate everything. They meet a girl named Ash who also feels she doesn't fit in at camp. After what they consider to be an epic, life-changing jam session, the trio decides to run away from camp and hit the road on a music tour. They have fun, fight, make some terrible decisions, face danger, and try to find a good gig that will show the world how great they are. In the process they grow up a little and learn a lot about themselves and each other.

Is it any good?

The band bonding is realistic and heartfelt in this tale that traces the ups and downs of life on the road in a funny, raunchy fashion. The three bandmates' joy in playing music together and creating their own sound makes for exciting reading. We see the good and bad of trying to be creative partners while spending every minute together. The characters see each other at their best and worst and deal with their egos, creative differences, and gross smells. Some of the running dialogue among them is hilarious at first, but as the book progresses, the banter gets old.

Author Jesse Andrews accurately captures the arrogance of youth: The kids hate everything that isn't hip and cool. They do learn lessons about the dangers of such arrogance and that it's OK to admit some things are cool or worthwhile. Even though this is a road trip tale, the story lacks urgency. It meanders along as the kids do, with no real end game in sight. The ultimate messages about responsibility, compromise, and self-reliance are well delivered, but it takes the reader some work to get there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pop culture. Why is it cool to hate some things but not others? What is it like to be into songs or shows that are cool but eventually fall out of fashion?

  • What do you think of the amount of sex and swearing in The Haters? Does it seem like a realistic portrayal of how teens talk and interact?

  • The teens in The Haters leave their phones behind when they embark on their trip, and it's extremely hard for a few of them. Do you find yourself automatically grabbing for your phone even if you don't really need to use it? Is it an ingrained habit? Do you take breaks from using or looking at your phone?

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