Book Review: Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

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Title: Shooter

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Genre: Realistic Fiction/YA

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes



Judging from the title and the cover art, I was initially afraid that Shooter was going to be a generic piece of ‘issue’ fiction. Luckily, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The first thing that really pulled me into this book was the format it was written in. The mix of interviews, police/medical records, and journal entries made it feel quite unlike anything I’d ever read before, but without falling into the trap of feeling like a gimmick. Most of the book is made up of interviews with two different kids who were all involved in a shooting at their high school, with the adults trying to figure out ‘risk assessment’ and prevent something similar from happening again.


The main instigator is dead, and the survivors are his best friend Cameron and a mutual friend both boys were interested in, Carla. Cameron and the dead teenager, Leonard, had a very close and unhealthy relationship, a ‘la Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Cameron idolizes Leonard and acknowledges that Leonard held some kind of weird power over him, despite him having been crazier than a shit house rat with an obvious cruel streak.


Cameron is one of the only black kids at his school and even though his family is extremely wealthy and he has a insane amount of privilege, his dad is both physically and psychologically abusive. I felt inclined at first to feel sympathetic towards Cameron, partially because of what a fucking dick his father was, but ultimately I can’t help but think that Carla was probably the only one deserving of any compassion. That’s one of the things I liked most about this book, the way it left you with a lot of ambiguity without feeling unsatisfying. Instead it made it feel like real life, and another thing I thought made it feel really believable was how morally grey the main characters are (except maybe Leonard, who’s a straight-up P.O.S.)


Even after the book ended, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of some of the characters’ actions and how ‘bad’ they were. Shooter is an extremely quick read, but it still manages to pack a punch and make you think about what you’ve just read. It’s disturbing at times and one of the things that’s most uncomfortable is that even the shooting is the shooter’s fault, first and foremost, these kids are given so little support and their emotional and family problems are mostly ignored. It’s also unsettling how two ‘normal’ kids allow a guy who’s basically a psycho have so much control over their lives.

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