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4.7 out of 5 stars19
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2002
Christopher Null's novel is a quickly-paced and tightly-drawn character study of fame and anonymity, brutality and friendship, desperation and rage. Best of all is how it captures the savage caste system that is the suburban high school. I haven't been so engrossed by a novel in years. Seriously. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2002
If you are looking for a book that is a real page turner -this is the one.
You really feel for Alex and what he goes though at the hands of the school bully Steve and his group of friends.
The book made me see revenge in a whole new light.
It's a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2002
Mr. Null captures the essence of anybody who couldn't figure out how to fit in high school. In Half Mast, we meet a normal kid, Alex, who is bullied and taunted to the brink. Alex is written as richly and deeply as any fictional character I've ever read. Along with Alex are a group of his friends who are also social outcasts, kids just waiting to graduate from high school and leave suburban hell behind them. Even Alex recognizes that his college days are nearing and his life will be infinitely better in a few years, but something happens to him that he can't forgive or forget. Alex fulfills the dream of every kid who has been the victim of a bully and the adults who just turn a blind eye. The truth is that almost everyone has Alex in us. This is a compelling story, and one that should be required reading for every high school teacher to understand how their less-than-popular students are feeling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2002
Fast, very timely and provacative read that gives tremendous insight into the ankst of teens who sit on or outside the fringe of social acceptance.
Gives great view of the emotions, processes, new logic and revenge that build-up around the main character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2002
Half Mast is a great read. From the moment you start you're drawn into Alex's world, and anyone who was ever ridiculed (and really, who wasn't?) in high school -- or who did the ridiculing him or herself -- will instantly remember the pain and agony of being there. Chris Null's writing is sharp and exact, and he describes his characters so well by showing us who they are by their words, their actions, and their interactions. Though you know what is going to inevitably happen, you can't stop reading to find out how it all goes down.
A truly incredible book. I can't believe it's his first!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2002
Chris Null's novel about a high school student who must endure constant bullying is intense and tightly written. In the novel's span readers witness the transformation of a young suburban kid from relatively 'normal' to bitter and consummed. Chris Null's depiction of Alex is realistic and anyone who has suffered through high school will relate to his plight. He reveals how the most seemingly normal communities and happy people have anger and violence seething not far from the surface. It's a book that you will have trouble putting down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2003
Fiction at its best. The writing is tight, the story is compelling, and the characters are interesting. The principal character is a geeky, brainy guy whose high school life is made unbearable by the school's most brutal bully. When he decides to take his revenge, the consequences are as bad (or worse) than the brutality he has already suffered. The story is told without mushy sentiment - in a straight-forward, powerful way. I started reading it Saturday morning and couldn't stop until I finished it that evening. It has been years since the last time that happened. If you like good stories - read this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2004
In brief, this story is about a teenager, who after several years of torment (though "torment" is an understatement) at the hands of a bully/school football star, decides to get even in the most drastic way you can.
He puts his plan in action a month or so before his tormentor is about to graduate and presumably leave his life for good. I was reminded of the Columbine shootists, who performed their unforgettable carnage shortly before they were to graduate, too. You might wonder why they couldn't hang on a little longer, but I think the book does a superb job of showing how each act of bullying piles up until you start seeing things in either/or terms.
Some of the bullying seemed so extreme and unbelievable, but I'm willing to chalk that up to the fact that I've never been a teenage boy. I also had some trouble with how indifferent the protagonist's parents seemed - even when the evidence that there was something seriously wrong going on in their son's life was staring them right in the face. What happened to the protagonist seemed to go far, far beyond even what the most indifferent would chalk up to "boys being boys."
Kudos to the author for resisting the urge to make his protagonist and his friends wealthy and famous while all the baddies got their comeuppance.
The next time something like Columbine happens, those who are looking for at least a few answers to the question of "why?" should read this book. Better yet, they should go talk to their kids.
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on November 30, 2014
This is the first-person account of a bullied teen's plans to kill his bully. (I'll let you read it to see whether the plans are carried out.)

I downloaded this in July when it was free, and last night in bed I opened it. An hour and a half later, I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I closed my Kindle. This morning first thing I opened it again and read the rest. It definitely held my interest -- I kept reading to find out what happened next. The bully (a very gifted and popular athlete in the high school) was idolized by 99% of the school and a terror to the other 1%. This was maybe a shade larger than life, but I think the author sold it successfully. The narrator's voice in his journal (written ten years after graduation) sounded quite authentic.

One star deducted because the book needed proofreading. Or maybe it was proofread, but in one long marathon session, because it seemed like errors were more frequent near the end. For example, a sentence began with A instead of I (a mistake that I, or A, tend to make myself), and there was a sentence (paraphrased from memory) "The newspaper printed the EPA's report was printed." There weren't a huge number of these, just enough to distract me occasionally; if I had the option I'd have given it 4½ stars. I would definitely read other work from this author, and in fact I've been reading his film reviews for years.
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on May 30, 2013
I don't remember how I came across this book many many years ago, but when I did I could not put it down. It is original, and raw, and scary, and gripping and deep and just flat out amazing. I agree with one of the other reviewers, I do not understand how this has not become a best seller. This book got me, someone who detested reading as a youngster, to LOVE books. The only complaint I have is that Christopher Null never released another novel. I have been waiting and waiting and will continue to wait. He is a very talented writer and should release more fiction. Great book, tell your friends.
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