review: the most dangerous place on earth

Monday, January 23, 2017

Date started: January 17
Date finished: January 18
Book 4/52 for 2017
My rating: 

This was my first Book of the Month book! It was tough to choose between a few of the January selections, but I was certain I'd enjoy this one the most. After reading, I'm not sure if enjoy is the right word for it, because this was definitely not an enjoyable kind of book. But it was thought-provoking and interesting, so we'll go with it. 

1. This was a very heavy read, but it was portioned out well. There was hope.

So much to emotionally unpack in every chapter. The teenagers in Mill Valley, California are all forced to live with the very severe consequences of their cyberbullying in eighth grade, and their new teacher Molly Nicoll enters their lives with no idea that the death of Tristan Bloch – which they caused – has shaped all of their lives in some way or another. 

2. Each chapter focused on a different student in this high school, all intertwined with Molly, their teacher, and Cally.

We knew each character by the time we got to their chapter, but we didn't really know them. We saw them how the other characters saw them, and then we really learned who they were through their own eyes. I loved Elisabeth Avarine's chapters the most. It's definitely a stereotypical character, the beautiful girl who everyone thinks is snobby but really she's just paralyzed by fear, but it was well-realized in Elisabeth. Loved it. 

3. Some high school drama stories have been especially eyeroll-worthy to me lately. This was not one.

There was a lot of high school drama and some serious HOT MESS drama, but I never felt like it was way too much to be a real story. The setting and the world-building made it make sense to me, and I went with it without much questioning. Lately, I've been having a hard time with any story that takes place in a traditional high school setting, but this one did feel like it could exist anywhere in the United States.

1. How is it possible that every single bad thing in the world happens in this one school?

I mentioned the drama and I really didn't think it was too much, but it amazed me how many bad things this author managed to pack into these characters' lives. I don't pity them, because for the most part, the characters do not deserve to be pitied, but I am a little blown away by how much BAD the author can throw at one high school during one single year.

2. Emma's story is one of the last told, and because it's so big, I feel like we should've gotten to know more of her than in just snippets.

I won't spoil anything, but when Emma's chapter comes, I don't feel like I got to know her enough to really feel for her or even be interested in her life. Her chapters were the worst for me, and I spent the whole time wondering what happened to Elisabeth or David or some of the other characters I felt more attached to. 

3. I wasn't sure if I liked Molly that much, and I definitely hated her weird obsession with her students.

Man, Molly was the second most unsettling teacher in this book. She'd be the most unsettling, but she didn't have an inappropriate relationship with a student, so she gets second place. She is weirdly clingy to her students and wants to be their friend, not their teacher. I feel for her when the other teachers cast her aside and mock her for thinking she knows what she's doing, because maybe she's right – connecting to the students will get you farther than keeping your distance. But she goes too far. 
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