Publishers Weekly Review
Ten years after accidentally shooting and killing his baby sister, 14-year-old Sebastian is haunted by the loss to the point of considering suicide. When he meets Aneesa, a new neighbor whose brown skin and headscarf also make her an outcast, their friendship challenges his views of his self worth. Suddenly, Sebastian is making pizzas for their YouTube channel and not solely focusing on feeling like a pariah, "the kid who killed." But he can't outrun his past, and a climactic revelation is a gut punch, returning to the agonized and primal feelings that are essential to this gripping story. Lyga (The Secret Sea) expertly scatters reminders of Sebastian's burden in benign, tossed-off phrases (of friends with siblings: "half the time it's like they just wish they could kill them"), the prominence of first-person shooter games, and his best friend's father's prized gun collection, each of which reveals another facet of his trauma. It's a raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent's worst nightmare. Ages 12-up. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-When Sebastian Cody was four years old, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun. A decade later, in the summer before his sophomore year in high school, he can no longer endure the guilt, everyone's knowing and nervous stares, and the constant feeling that he doesn't deserve to be alive. Sebastian decides to take his own life at the end of the summer in the same way that he took his sister's. Knowing it will all be over soon is a comforting, relaxing thought-until he meets Aneesa, a Muslim girl who has moved in down the street. Aneesa is funny and smart, and, most important, she knows nothing about Sebastian and his horrible past. Together they create a YouTube channel about making pizza, and as they spend more and more time together, Sebastian begins to feel as if there is something left to live for. However, when kids from school start viewing the channel, they recognize Sebastian and leave comments about his sister's death and make crude Islamophobic jokes about Aneesa. A wedge is driven between the two friends, and Sebastian is once again headed toward a destructive end. Lyga (I Hunt Killers) tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic. With a number of sensitive issues addressed, along with frequent graphic language, this book may be best for a mature audience, who will fully appreciate the unwavering and stark realism. VERDICT A must-have for all libraries serving teens.-Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Fourteen-year-old Sebastian lives in the past: when he was four years old, he accidentally shot and killed his four-month-old sister. This haunts him, leading to obsessive self-hate and suicidal feelings. He is waiting, in fact, for the voice in his head to tell him it's time to effect his end. That time seems imminent as his past and future seem to come together, faster and faster until he meets Aneesa. The two become friends, bonding over a YouTube channel they create that features Sebastian making pizzas. As time passes, Sebastian finds himself falling in love and feeling a strange emotion: hope. For her, he thinks, For her, yes, I could stay. But does he deserve happiness, and what might happen if she doesn't return his feelings? Lyga manages his intensely emotional material well, creating in Sebastian a highly empathetic character, though his voice seems far too sophisticated for a 14-year-old. Nevertheless, the psychology that drives his decisions is acutely observed, and his story is highly memorable.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2017 Booklist