Bang, Bang You're Dead by Narinder Dhami 2009
Corgi Books/Random House
IQ "My mind seems to have fractured into tiny pieces that are flying off in all directions, and I can't seem to hold one thought long enough to examine it before I'm racing on to the next." Mia pg. 243
Mia Jackson's school has an invader, a mysterious gunman. The school is immediately evacuated, but one class is being held hostage by the gunman. Mia fears that the gunman may be her twin brother, Jamie so she sets off to find the gunman. Mia is afraid of everything, especially dying, but she's more afraid of the shooter being her brother.
The ending is way too short. The author drops a bombshell on us and then leaves us hanging. Sure everything is resolved and there's going to be progress in the future but I needed more explanation. How did the mother react? And what's up with Leo? I also felt that the secondary characters were underdeveloped. Mia keeps mostly to herself but she has one friend, Bree. Bree serves only to express a bit of concern over Mia, she never becomes her own character. Same with the typical mean girl, I couldn't even recall her name after I finished the book (her name is Kat). Jamie does have more development, probably because he's Mia's twin. The book starts off slow as well and I have to admit, I finished this book still not liking Mia.
This is definitely a book you'll want to re-read it if only to piece together clues that hinted at the ending. Mia's mother is bipolar and I thought her illness was excellently portrayed, she's reluctant to receive treatment, one minute she's high as a kite, the next she can't leave her room. This is very trying for Mia (and Jamie) and I found their reactions to be authentic to teenagers. *SPOILER*OK so what happened?! Mia has a split personality but I wanted to see that storyline developed a lot more. Not just in one quick chapter. I think that chapter was well written, I could practically hear the panic rising in Mia's voice as she grew angry at her therapist as she worked out her split personality. Yet I wanted to know how Mia's mom would take the diagnosis (is that even the right word?), would this send her into a downward spiral? Such a great plot twist though, I would even describe it as epic. Mia/Jamie weren't behind the shooting, but I totally thought Jamie would be. *End of Spoiler*
Bang, Bang You're Dead has one of the best plot twists I've ever heard, unfortunately the ending is rushed thereby taking away from what could have been a truly great ending. I love that this book features mental illness, I think the topic was handled respectfully. There's little humor in this book, just some very dry lines such as (upon watching her classmates scurry to leave the building) "[o]ne single mass of pure blind fear, everyone alike, teachers and pupils. No one cares about looking cool when they might be staring death in the face." (pg. 32). That line isn't even funny, but for some reason it caused me to smirk. A point is made in the book that school shooting are very, very uncommon in the UK. I wouldn't say they are common here, but I gather that we've had more than the UK. Good twist on a fairly-new (or at least new-to-me to read about) topic.
Disclosure: Received from review from publisher, Thank you!
PS If anyone has read this book, do you think Mia is biracial (as in half Asian-half white)? It's really interesting because Mia and her mother and brother are described so ambiguously. I'm not even sure how I feel about that. I presumed she was white, but since the author is biracial (half Indian-half white) I could see Mia being biracial as well.