Verdict: HATE: A NOVEL OF VITRIOL, VENGEANCE, AND NATIONAL DEBATE is emotionally flat as a novel, but it’s timely material for a Hollywood epic about hate crime and white supremacists.
When a hate crime turns life upside down for wealthy San Diego couple Cate and Craig Winters, they become vigilantes, gunning for the white supremacists behind the act. Their business talents, wealth, and a well-connected lawyer friend, Gregory, make their project mission possible. Because of the novel’s do-it-yourself solution to seeking justice and the way it involves a famous anti-racism organization, HATE: A NOVEL OF VITRIOL, VENGEANCE, AND NATIONAL DEBATE may displease civil rights advocates as well as the alt-right.
HATE begins in a kiss-and-go school loading zone where two heavily armed white supremacists sweat in a pickup truck waiting to complete their assignment–the massacre of Jewish elementary school children in San Diego. Before it’s over, three students at the public high school next door also die. As horrifying as the opening is, readers may find it difficult to connect with Cate and Craig as they mourn the loss of their teenage daughter and son. The emotional atmosphere of the novel is static, because the internal life of the book’s many characters lacks depth.
Another cause of this flatness is that the author writes almost nothing about the many elementary students who die or are injured. Instead, he uses the massacre to frame the story of Cate and Craig’s violent adventure. Yet this is a daring, high-tech, shoot’em up that likely will attract Hollywood attention with its hot topics of white supremacy and hate crime. In fact, Brad Randolph first began the story as a screenplay, and it reads that way with much present-tense description of characters’ appearance.
The novel seems to be waiting for movie stars to breathe emotional depth into Cate and Craig as well as its too-big cast, including Gregory, who helps his friends obtain weapons and connects them to a former spy who trains the Winters in reconnaissance and attack; myriad law enforcement officers; Craig’s sister, a powerful U.S. senator; a vigilante (unrelated to Craig and Kate) who is the center of an important subplot; and several white supremacist leaders who the reader hears about but never meets. HATE also stumbles in its pursuit of a big idea: should the first amendment allow hate speech? It’s a timely question, but gets lost amid the Hollywood violence.
HATE: A NOVEL OF VITRIOL, VENGEANCE, AND NATIONAL DEBATE is emotionally flat as a novel, but it’s timely material for a Hollywood epic about hate crime and white supremacists.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader