Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review: Half Mast by Christopher Null

What would you do if a bully consistently tortured you for almost 3 years? Alex, a quiet freshman with a small group of friends, is tortured on an almost daily basis by Steve Williams and his goon squad of friends. Steve is the all star athlete at Fall Valley High, the "school stud", and two years older than Alex. On the first day of school, Alex corrects Steve's pronunciation of the word "sine" in honors trig class:

"I guess I thought I could change my image-if you can call it that-by proving myself as a worthy intellect, despite my skinny physique and funny hairdo that never looked the same from one day to the next. Since Steve was already the school stud (though I didn't know him from Adam), he was picked to do the reading. Of course, the man-child was an idiot. He stumbled through the book, unfamiliar with jargon that wasn't used in the locker room, and when he hit the word "sine" he pronounced it "seen". So I spoke up. I'd signed my death warrant on the first day of school".

I liked this book for several reasons. Alex was a character that I could identify with. Not popular in school, getting picked on. He has his own small group of friends and is pretty content with his life up until he encounters Steve. Alex endured the daily beatings without complaint to his parents or school authorities, knowing that if he said anything, it would only make it worse. I felt like I knew each character of this book personally. Christphoher Null, the author, did a great job with the story and the characters, and while I was reading, I was transported back in time to my high school days (not that that is a good thing!) but it really put me into the story.

My favorite quote from the book is on page 210 and is: "If you beat a dog every day of its life, then suddenly stop the beatings, what happens to the dog?"

This was an intense read...highly recommended.
4 Stars

Published by Sutro Press, San Francisco, CA
219 Pages
ISBN: 0-9720981-0-0

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