This story centers around two teenage boys, Brendan and Gary, who idolized and identified with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine High School infamy. Brendan and Gary were also outcasts who had been bullied by the popular kids and jocks for nearly their entire lives. And, unfortunately, they also felt it necessary to take matters into their own hands by exacting violent revenge against the people whom they felt had wronged them. The only major difference I saw, really, is that these boys were [thankfully] fictional.
Strasser’s characters give voice to many of the theories people have about what can cause or prevent school shootings. The story unfolds as a wide cast of characters — represented by a full cast of readers in the audiobook format — reacts to what happened. These characters include students, teachers, administrators, and townspeople. There were even sections featuring the thoughts and activities of Brendan, Gary, and their friends. Characters stated and defended their views about gun control, bullying, violent video games, and the glorification of high school athletes as they reflected on the violence that had been perpetrated upon their community. And while it doesn’t necessary sound like a bunch of characters giving such statements could make a cohesive story, this style worked very well. I think Strasser did an excellent job providing balance and only wish [like most of these characters] there were simple, straight-forward ways to avoid such senseless tragedies in the future.