Have you ever been bullied? If so, you can understand a desperation to make it stop. Kevin Burns was in that situation, and chose to stop his bullying in the most brutal way possible. This act to stop his bullies sets off the story of Betrayal High. My book review of Betrayal High is sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but always honest. This book holds a difficult subject, but is one the world has a hard time seeing until it’s too late. Bullying is a tough subject, and a theme that’s hard to explore in a book, but it’s one I think this author did very well.
Thank you to Netgalley and 8Grand Publications for a free copy of this book, in return for an honest review.
This book explores different themes that people struggle with in day-to-day life. Bullying, violence in general, abuse, gun violence, and many others. It would seem, at first glance, that exploring so many different themes would be difficult, but this author manages to pull it off.
Trigger warnings: This book mentions bullying, molestation, and gun violence in a school setting.
One thing I didn’t enjoy about this book is it’s written in present tense. I was always taught to write books in past tense, because they’re easier to understand. So when a book is written this way, it makes it hard to resolve in my head what’s going on. This is one of very few things I found “wrong” about this book, and it was easy to ignore, for the most part, so didn’t affect my enjoyment very much.
Kevin Burns is done.
He’s been bullied and abused his entire career at his new school, and he can’t take it anymore. So one day, he grabs a couple guns from his dad’s gun cabinet and decides to do something about it.
Kevin plans exactly what he’s going to do, and who he’s going to target, but things don’t turn out the way he planned. Instead of dying in the bomb he set, he’s tackled by another student, and arrested. The other student, Kenny Tracey, is lauded as a hero, but his Dad, Zach Blake, has other plans.
Zachary Blake is a big time lawyer in the town, and he decides to sue Kevin, his family, the school, the school administration, and the company that manufactured the guns. He wants to see justice done for the families who were torn apart in the shooting, and he wants to see those who put the students at risk pay for what they’ve done.
“I was the victim of every type of bullying you can imagine. Physical bullying is the visible type. Kids beat me up because they were bigger and stronger than I was. No one ever lifted a finger or uttered a word in defiance of these bullies. Throughout my high school career, I was punched, slapped, spat upon, had hard objects thrown at me….
“But physical bullying is not the only form of bullying. Verbal bullying can be just as bad. I was laughed at, ridiculed in front of others, demeaned and mocked. Worse than that, I was shunned, ignored, and friendless, left to my own devices, isolated in a sea of offensive classmates.
“As a result of what can only be called torture, I felt detached, useless, defeated, and depressed. I must have been inferior to all of my classmates.
“Why else would they shun me? ridicule me? Torture me? It had to be my fault right? I had no self-esteem, no educational direction. I considered suicide. Art was my only form of expression, yet even my art was ridiculed and mocked.
“Despite constant visits and complaints to teachers and administrators, no principal, counselor or teacher was able to solve the problem. I’m not saying they didn’t try or weren’t sympathetic, but their efforts were fruitless. In the end, their consistent message for me was to “buck up” and understand kids can be cruel.
‘You aren’t the only one being bullied by your classmates,’ more than one teacher advised as if there is comfort in the company of someone else’s misery.”
My Review of Betrayal High
Betrayal High was a difficult book for me to read. I was never bullied in high school, but I sympathize with those that were. It must be a horrible situation to be in. Not everyone decides to shoot up their school, though. Some decide to end their own existence. I think this book brings to light what effect bullying has on the victim, the perpetrators and everyone else in the community. It was hard to read, but I believe it was important.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the book’s being written in present tense. When I read a book like that, it takes some getting used to, because I was taught in school that it was taboo. School was a long time ago for me, so maybe things have changed. But the present tense of the book was one of the reasons I took away a star.
I found the characters of Kenny and Jake to be a little unrealistic. Most high school students I’ve met aren’t as articulate and well-spoken as these young men were. I appreciated their relationship with their step-dad, but their use of language to get their point across was a little unbelievable to me.
Did I enjoy Betrayal High? Yes, for the most part.
Would I recommend Betrayal High? Yes, because I think the subject of bullying should get more exposure.
Will I read this book again? Likely not, but I will probably find other books on the same subject.
Have you read this book? Let me know!
Do you want to read this book? I’d like to know that too!
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What I’m Reading Next:
Rachel’s son has recovered from the flu, but with an unexpected result: he has a new imaginary friend, who gradually forces him to do more and more violent things.
So far this book is really good, and I can’t wait to find out what happens!