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You Killed Wesley Payne Hardcover – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316077429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316077422
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,516,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Amazon Exclusive: M.T. Anderson Reviews You Killed Wesley Payne

M.T. Anderson lives outside Boston. His satirical novel Feed was a Finalist for the National Book Award and was winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His Gothic historical novel, Octavian Nothing, Volume 1, won the National Book Award. The Boston Globe recently named his fantasy thriller The Suburb Behind the Stars one of the 10 Best Children's Books of 2010.

“Clique. Click. Bang.”

Dalton Rev shows up at his new school dressed to detect in a crisp white shirt and a sharp tie--though in this post-Chandler noir-scape, this doesn’t earn him respect so much as a shouted “Nice tie, asshat!”

Dalton Rev is on a mission, paid to find whoever murdered Wesley Payne, a popular boy who ended life hung upside down, like St. Anthony in chinos. To finger the perp, Rev navigates the tricky politics of cliques gone rabid, each with a sly moniker and a secret racket to boot: the Ginny Slims, the Face Bois, the Balls, the Plaths, the Rope-a-Dope Misanthropes, and one mealy-mouthed tail in a suit and Veritas wingtips.

As the school registrar warns young Rev, “There’s a calm before the storm, but the storm is definitely coming.”

“What’s that?” he snaps back. “Haiku?”

“Rockers or jocks. A new fish like you would be smart to pick a side.”

The side Dalton Rev picks is homicide, and the plot launches merrily into detention-room mayhem.

You Killed Wesley Payne is pure delight to read, and clearly was a delight to write. Beaudoin plays the language like bee-bop. The fun is vertiginous. On the one hand, there’s a strong tang of period pulp (“Where’s the opera?” is slang for “What’s your hurry?”; “Take a sniff,” like the old, ubiquitous “Take a powder,” means “Leave quickly”); on the other hand, there are the idioms of new mean streets: blowshite and uddersuck. For someone who calls himself a Private Dick, language can be tricky.

The dialogue is as funny as Rex Stout, and just as sharp and slap-happy as Hammett. The mystery is tangled--at times, bewilderingly so--but that’s hardly important, given the high-velocity acrobatics of these fiercely funny kids, riffing retreads of old stereotypes turned new. You may not care, in the end, who killed Wesley Payne, but you’ll want to make sure that Dalton Rev himself, vulnerable and harsh, wins the day and isn’t de-quicked and deep-sixed by his mysterious antagonist. Like Brick, but Nerf, this high school noir is sure to entertain.



Author Q&A with Sean Beaudoin

Q: If you had 30 seconds to convince someone to buy You Killed Wesley Payne, what would you say?

A: “Don’t panic, but I’ve just sprayed the back of your neck with a deadly Russian isotope that will, within minutes of entering your bloodstream, liquefy your spine. Fortunately, right over there on that bookshelf, is a big stack of You Killed Wesley Payne. If you buy anywhere between fourteen and eighteen copies in the next two minutes, I will give you the antidote. And then I will autograph your new book collection. For free.”

Q: Do you outline or write straight from your imagination?

A: I outline, and then sort of deviate from it widely. The characters tend to make their own decisions and want to go in new directions. It’s like being a bus driver. Sometimes you just have to pull over and let them off, even if it’s not in front of their house.

Q: How long was the journey from the idea to the physical book?

A: I could have run marathons, traveled the world, learned to cook like a Szechuan master, been married and divorced twice, and invented the Internet in the time it took to decide on the cover art.

Actually, it was about three years from the time that the name Dalton Rev popped into my head, uninvited, to the morning when a box of stylishly glossy hardbounds arrived on my doorstep.

Q: How did you come up with all the slang in this book?

A: One of my great regrets is having studied film, instead of now being a balding adjunct linguistics professor with zero possibility of tenure. I just love playing with words. Coming up with the slang was fun and easy. The hard part was toning it down and not overusing it. Actually, I had to throw away pages and pages of the stuff. Mostly because it was way too funny and marketable. My publisher’s lawyers were worried we’d get sued if You Killed Wesley Payne was so freaking hilarious that people stopped buying any other books.

Q: If you had to live the life of one of the characters in the book, who would you most want to be and why?

A: Probably Kurt Tarot. I’ve always wanted to be the lead singer in a band. Also, I’ve always wanted to have sharpened teeth and wear ankle-length leather non-ironically.

Q: Seriously, did you kill Wesley Payne?

A: Don’t call me Seriously. And the answer is that we all killed Wesley Payne in our own way. So if the SWAT team knocks politely on your door tomorrow morning, you may not want to open it.

Q: What kind of research did you do before you started writing?

A: I watched a million movies, read massive towers of pulp novels, and somehow managed to live through high school without the inevitable destruction of my every hope and dream.

Q: So, should we ban your book, or should everyone buy it right this instant and make it a runaway bestseller?

A: There is no question that you should immediately ban You Killed Wesley Payne. You should toss it into the street. You should stack it on the horizon like cordwood and douse it with kerosene. You should refuse to admit it exists, decline like Bartleby to type its name, and call on your Congressman to begin an investigation. You should pulp, shred, tag, deface, belittle, mutilate, and spindle it. All at top volume.

Q: Why write YA?

A: That’s how you get to do the most interesting interviews. YA rocks. Stories about sad professors who live in Upper East Side apartment buildings don’t rock. In fact, I have a huge YA tattoo that takes up the entire area between my shoulder blades. Most people seem to think it stands for You Asshat. But it doesn’t. It totally doesn’t.

Q: What five words best describe you?

A: Hunger. Velocity. Tall. Fascinated. Bassline.

Q: What do you hope people will say about you when you’re gone?

A: I’m fine with them saying whatever they were going to say anyway, without hoping for a particular slant on it. When I’m gone, and in the process of being reincarnated as a very spunky Jack Russell Terrier, I plan on my Sean legacy not being that much of a concern. Toss me a tennis ball, scratch my stomach, put some Chuck Wagon in a bowl, and we’re good.

Q: What's next for you as a writer?

A: A well-deserved twelve hour break. And then we start ramping up for my next book, Wise Young Truck, which is finished and waiting patiently to be loved. Although after the focus groups and marketing people get done with it, it may be called something else entirely. Like Cool Vampire Karate Phat-Magic. Or Love Teen Rich Break-Up Shopping Tears. Keep an eye out for it (them).

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The cliques rule the rackets in Salt River High. The two top outfits, the Balls (football players, wearers of no-irony crew cuts) and Pinker Casket (thrash rockers, most appropriate for funerals or virgin sacrifices), are hurtling toward a turf war, and all the assorted mid-level cliques (and even the crooked Fack Cult T) are constantly looking for an angle to ride to prominence. At the center of the maelstrom is a body, Wesley Payne, a former member of the Euclidians (nerds, fingertip sniffers), who was found wrapped in duct tape, hanging upside-down from the goalposts. Teenage private dick Dalton Rev arrives to sort out the murder, locate a missing hundred grand, and if everything rolls his way, ride off into the sunset with the adorable Macy Payne, Wesley’s sister. Beaudoin plays a Chandler hand with a Tarantino smirk in this ultra-clever high-school noir, dropping invented brand labels on everything from energy-drink ingredients (Flavor Flavah) to the Almighty (Oh my Bob!). Ever checking his moves against what his crime-novel hero, Lexington Cole, would do, Dalton himself is so straight hard-boiled, it’s screwy: Dalton played it cool. He played it frozen. He was in full Deano at the Copa mode. But in the end, none of the stylistic pastiche and slick patter would matter if they weren’t hitched to such a propulsive mystery, with enough double-crosses and blindsiding reveals to give you vertigo. Moreover, the opening Clique Chart might just be the funniest four pages you’ll read all year. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

Sean Beaudoin enjoys typing about himself in the third person, as if some underfed intern were writing his bio for him. He wrote Going Nowhere Faster, Fade To Blue, and You Killed Wesley Payne strictly for cash, but his new book, The Infects, was a zombie labor of love. Sean's short stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Onion, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Spirit-the inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines. He has since been awarded free cocktail peanuts for life. Sean is also one of the founding editors of TheWeeklings.com, which is hands-down the most influential site on the internet.

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Customer Reviews

I didn't know right until the end, and it yanked the whole floor out of everything, but in a good way.
Henry E. Kyburg
This is a YA book perfect for any young and sophisticated reader, but also for any adult who appreciates amazing writing.
Amazon Customer
I love all the characters in this book though, they were all so interesting and unique and just totally abnormal.
Kristen M. Harvey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Sean Beaudoin's writing since I read his first YA book, Going Nowhere Faster. Nobody writes like he does, with so much energy and vividness and a kind of humor that is absolutely unique but also feels somehow classic. This book moves so quickly that it feels like there is an engine running somewhere, and it had me laughing so hard that people on the subway were giving me nervous looks. The high school world in this book has all the familiar trappings -- the cliques, the scary jocks, the popular kids with their designer clothes, the music freaks. But at the same time is noir highschool detective story has almost the feel of a fantasy novel -- in that the world here seems entirely new. This is a YA book perfect for any young and sophisticated reader, but also for any adult who appreciates amazing writing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Henry E. Kyburg on January 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This isn't just a great YA book, this is a GREAT book, period. For one thing, it is the rare novel that is consistently hilarious throughout. I laughed on the first page and pretty much never stopped. It's a murder mystery, with a ton of really cool, original characters, especially Dalton Rev, who has to solve the crime. Who did kill Wesley Payne? I didn't know right until the end, and it yanked the whole floor out of everything, but in a good way. Hey, the real reason this book is better than any book I've read this year, is how original it is! That counts a lot with me. Some book sells a lot of copies and then there's fifty new ones that are just like it. YKWP is not like anything else. It's the like writer created his own language, except that it all makes sense (with the help of the rude glossary at the end). Tons of slang and insults. A body. A very very hip detective. The extremely hot Cassiopeia Jones, who is the head of FOXXES, a clique of hottie girls. God, I love this book so much. You're crazy not to read it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Welcome to Salt River High, a school campus verging on a warzone where the cliques with the most power are the ones who have scammed, stole, or bullied their way to the most money. It's a scene of organized chaos, and it's a wonder that there haven't been more casualties. Not that there hasn't been a death. That's why Dalton Rev is here. He has a job to do, involving a dead body, wrapped in duct tape, and hanging from the goalposts of the football field. Dalton will have to use his private detective handbook as well as his own wits to navigate the dangerous politics of Salt River High so he can find the stolen money, diffuse a ruthless power grab, and figure out who really killed Wesley Payne, before he also gets done in.

You Killed Wesley Payne is a highly unusual but very thrilling detective novel. Forget Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, I want to hear more from Dalton Rev! It's hard not to be a little charmed by this fast talking, quirky kid who, despite always going where the money is, tries to hold true to his morals. As each new development in the case is revealed, and through a few well placed flashbacks, the reader comes to understand why Dalton is the way he is, and it really is fascinating to see. Everything about this novel is slightly exaggerated to the extent of being unrealistic, but I wouldn't say that this is a bad thing at all; the tussles between the high school cliques, and corruption of the administration and law enforcement, and the somewhat odd and outrageous behavior of many of the minor characters would not normally take place in real life, but they're part of what makes You Killed Wesley Payne such an interesting read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Noel Casiano on January 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down. Such a trippy flashback, and written with an uncanny perspective of dewy youth.
Thoroughly enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SeaDawgMR on January 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Yes, Beaudoin, who always has had a way with words, probably because he has been collecting the best of them, eclectically but judiciously, for most of his life. More importantly, he has the brilliance to retrieve the perfect one when needed.
You Killed Wesley Payne is, I believe, his best long work yet - some of his older short pieces are veritable gems of perfect sentences using just the right words.
It would be difficult not to be convinced that he has a great future...delighting the growing numbers of his fans. Good for him! Good for them!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Misha on March 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was all prepared to love the book, the moment I read it's a mystery. The book turned out to be not what I expected. I have mixed feelings about You Killed Wesley Payne. I don't think I am the right person to fully appreciate this book.

I will start with the positive aspects.
I did like You Killed Wesley Payne. I am very impressed by the originality of the book. It is definitely very witty and clever. Moreover, there are some great plot twists that kept me guessing. There were some funny dialogues that made me giggle out loud. You Killed Wesley Payne is also a satire on high school stereotypes;the author's description of the various cliques is quite entertaining.

As for the characters, Dalton is a very likeable protagonist. I warmed up to him right from the beginning. Dalton's ideal sleuth is Lexington Cole, the main protagonist of a detective series. He relies on Lexington Cole for all his knowledge - something which amused me a lot. Dalton tries to be a hard-boiled detective, a "tough man", yet he seems so innocent, at least compared to the other characters. All he wants is to raise money to support his family. He seemed like the only character who had any sort of principles.

I can totally imagine this book as a movie. The book has been compared to Mean Girls and Heathers, both of which I love! The book does have the same dark humour. In fact, I liked how dark it is. There's violence, chaos and corruption even among the school authorities -something which is very scarily real. Sometimes , it got too much for me though; everyone right from the teachers to the students seemed to be lacking any kind of ethics. Still, I have never read anything like this before and the freshness of the concept does count.
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