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Publishers WeeklyBullying gets a thorough examination in Walton's YA debut, a stark, but often heavy-handed story that alternates between the perspectives of the victim and the aggressor. Sixteen-year-old Victor Konig may be a math genius, but his icy parents ignore him when they're not pressuring him to be perfect. No longer able to endure parental neglect, as well as bullying at the hands of William "Bull" Mastrick at school, Victor attempts suicide, landing in a psychiatric hospital. Coincidentally, his tormentor ends up there as well, after his own hellish home life drives him to a moment of violence. Committed to the psych ward for five days, the two enemies have to deal with one another, both as roommates and in group therapy. But it may be impossible for them to overcome their respective traumas, abusive backgrounds, and mutual hatred, unless they accept help from outside, unexpected sources. Though Walton successfully exposes the impetus of violence through well-developed central characters, both Victor and Bull's guardians feel one-dimensional. The author's bleak depiction of the cycle of cruelty loses some of its potency through an overly tidy conclusion. Agent: Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown. Ages 14-up.
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