A bunch of high school boys decide that one night they’ll get some kicks from vandalising a family’s home, the Jeromes’ home. They broke no windows, but did things to that house that were unimaginable. They left the youngest sister in the family, Karen Jerome, unconscious at the foot at the cellar steps. That resulted in that Karen laid in a coma for a very long time.
One boy, called the Avenger, was watching the vandalism, but he didn’t do anything to stop it that night, because ha said he would wait, knowing when to strike.
Jane Jerome, Karen’s bigger sister takes the vandalism very hard. After a while one of the trashers, the leader, get caught by the police, because one of the neighbours turned him in. Jane meets Buddy, and they become a couple. What Jane doesn’t know is that Buddy was in that gang that trashed her house. Buddy has got big problems with that, and has become an alcoholic, at the age of 16.
Everything was going fine until the Avenger got to know that Jane’s boyfriend was one of the trashers. So he decided to kidnap her, and kill her. Luckily he failed. Jane got to know the truth about Buddy, and their relationship was soon over.
In this book, we’re taken right into the middle of the action. The book starts with telling about the vandalism. Later in the book, we can hear about the characters’ background and what their thoughts are. It’s not like an author are telling the story to us, but we can read Jane’s, Buddy’s and the Avenger’s thoughts and what they are experiencing in their life’s.
The story takes place in a small town in the USA, called Burnside. WE don’t hear anything of when this story takes place, but most likely we’re in the 90’s and is either spring or fall, because they go to school.
I’m not quite sure who the main character in this book could be, but the three most important characters must be Jane Jerome, Buddy Walker and the Avenger. That’s because I got to know them and their feelings and thoughts.
Jane Jerome is 16 years old. She’s popular, has got two close friends and are satisfied with her life, until the vandalism. She didn’t feel safe or like their house was her home anymore. She gets very thoughtful, and her two closest friends can’t understand her. She spends her days, going to school, visit her little sister at the hospital and the rest of the day wandering around. When she meets Buddy her life seems a little bit brighter, now she has someone she can talk to.
Buddy Walker is at the same age as Jane. But they don’t go to the same school. His parents just got divorced and Buddy takes it very hard. He becomes friend with Harry Flower, and he’s the one that makes him start drinking. Buddy is an alcoholic, but are hiding it well to Jane. Buddy is a character you’re not quite sure you hate or feel sorry for, because he’s very week. He has difficult to say no. The reason that Buddy met Jane was that he followed her, and met her at "an accident".
The Avenger is a sick person. Early in the book, we’re told that he killed a person because he teased some of his classmates. When the Avenger kills his grandfather, we understand that this person got big problems. When you read this book you have the impression that the Avenger must be a kid, but in the last chapter we get to know the truth. The Avenger is actually one of Jane’s neighbours, Mickey Lonney. That’s what everyone calls him, because he seems to live in his own world. The Avenger or Mickey Looney, thinks he’s 11 years old, but actually he’s 35. He lives in two different worlds, Mickey’s world and the Avenger’s world. The Avenger wanted to kill Jane because he promised himself at the night the gang trashed the house, that he would avenge the house and what happened to it. But instead of killing Jane, he took suicide.
It’s hard to say what the main theme in this book could be, but I think that the author wanted to tell us that neither violence nor alcohol solves any problems, it only makes it worse. I think Buddy and the Avenger had problems understanding that. When Buddy started to drink, he lived in his own world and all the pain disappeared, until the alcohol didn’t work anymore. The Avenger thought that to kill one of the guys that harassed him, would make everything better. But that wasn’t the solution, he had to kill his grandfather too. At the end, he got so sick he didn’t see the difference between right and wrong.
Robert Cormier, the author of this book, writes in a special way. What makes his work unique is his ability to make evil behaviour understandable, though, of course still evil. His themes of the ordinariness of evil and what happens when good people stand by and do nothing are treated seriously, and he doesn’t provide the easy comfort of happy endings. Nevertheless, he beliefs in hope.
The book left me with the feeling that there are some pretty messed up people out there. I’ve never really thought about society like the way it was explained in this book. In my mind sometimes I think about these events as being true, but I never thought they existed. It’s probably because I don’t live in that kind of society where these events are. I really hated the characters in the book, but when I got to the end my feeling changed and I started to understand them. They disturbed me with their thoughts and actions. They hurt a lot of people including themselves. I really loved this book even thought it was something that seemed unreal.