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Half Mast Paperback – July, 2002
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"A truly gripping story from its enigmatic opening through its stunning denouement... the best of contemporary American fiction." -- New York Resident, June 2002
"Something we never get to see, a raw and frightening thing that we're going to remember for quite some time." -- 3am magazine, August 2002
A cautionary tale that will haunt you for a long time. -- The Compulsive Reader, November 2002
A completely absorbing, provocative, and finely crafted story. -- The Boox Review, December 2002
A stunning accomplishment... gripping caper yarn, perceptive coming of age story, keen commentary on drastic Darwinian social stratification in school. -- Blogcritics, February 2003
A very satisfying read with a shocking yet stunning ending. -- All About Murder Reviews, November 2002
I am deeply impressed with this novel... Christopher Null [has] made it to my immediate buy list. -- Curled Up With a Good Book, January 2003
Very believable... Readers returning to the trials of puberty will find this fast read disturbingly accurate. -- San Francisco Chronicle, September 28, 2003
What separates Half Mast... is its coolly realistic gaze at the aftermath of the deed and its deeply flawed protagonist. -- MyMac.com, December 2002
From the Author
Thank you for considering Half Mast, a novel which took two years to make it to store shelves due to its difficult material: high school violence and its often catastrophic consequences. It's a cautionary tale about both bullying and revenge, suggesting that neither avenue leads to much good. Regardless of whether or not you find yourself rooting for the hero, I promise you won't be able to put it down. Thanks again, and thanks to all the readers who have sent their many kind words. I hope the book has an impact on your life -- for the better, of course.
- Christopher Null
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Top customer reviews
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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.
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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