Expelled by James Patterson - Pacy but problematic

Title: Expelled
Series: N/A
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: October 23rd 2017, Little Brown
Pages: 299 Pages, Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: 2/5

One viral photo.Four expelled teens.Everyone's a suspect.
Theo Foster's Twitter account used to be anonymous--until someone posted a revealing photo that got him expelled. No final grade. No future. No fair.
Theo's resigned to a life of misery working at the local mini-mart when a miracle happens: Sasha Ellis speaks to him. Sasha Ellis knows his name. She was also expelled for a crime she didn't commit, and now he has the perfect way to get her attention: find out who set them up.
To uncover the truth, Theo has to get close to the suspects: the hacker, the quarterback, the mean girl, the vice principal, and his own best friend. What secrets are they hiding? And how can Theo catch their confessions on camera?
I was volunteering at my library. It was a quiet shift. I really wasn't enjoying the book I was reading, so I decided to pick up a book off of the YA shelves. I read the blurb for Expelled and thought "Ooh, this looks good! It sounds similar to One of Us is Lying, which I really wanted to read but I got spoiled for". I started reading and couldn't put it down. I've read several James Patterson books in my lifetime. I haven't particularly enjoyed them, but there is something compulsive about his books that makes you read until the end. I'd wager it's the short chapters. When a chapter is a couple of pages, you end up saying "maybe in this chapter it will get better" and then after saying that for awhile you realise you've finished the book (speaking from experience here).

I actually really enjoyed this book when I first started reading it, but as the book wore on, especially towards the end, I felt my enjoyment levels of it plummet to dramatically low levels. Why? Because it contained heavy, sensitive subject matters that could easily trigger people. The worst thing was, it was used as a shock factor. The revelations happened within the last 10 pages and there was no exploration of the devastation behind it. It was used purely for a shock factor, and that's not okay.

Expelled features seventeen-year-old Theo who has just been expelled for uploading an explicit picture of classmates to his school Twitter account. But Theo didn't do it. Accompanying Theo in his expulsion are Parker (the school football star), Jude (school mascot and Theo's best friend) and Sasha Ellise (a beautiful yet reclusive girl who has been accused of stealing). Theo knows he is innocent and is desperate to clear his name. He can't have expulsion for something he had no part in ruining his future. With the help of the three others and one of his other peers, who also happens to be a popular YouTuber, he decides to make a documentary to prove their innocence. However, everyone is hiding secrets and all of it will come to light.

It had a good concept, and that's the thing with Patterson's novels, they have interesting story lines, yet the writing and characters always end up disappointing me. Before I get into why this book was so problematic, let me discuss the characters first. I liked Theo. As soon as I started reading Expelled, I thought I was going to really enjoy it based on Theo's narrative voice alone. He's likable and he's thirsty for justice and desperate to ensure he has a good future ahead of him. He was a good guy, and if it wasn't for him (and Jude) I probably would've stopped reading. I also liked Jude, Theo's best friend. He's a bisexual artist who was funny and authentic. Parker and Sasha were very one-dimensional characters - and very stereotypical too - so I couldn't warm to them really. I think that was the core problem for me regarding the characters. They were stereotypes. They knew they were stereotypes, but that didn't add any more depth to them nor make me connect to them. Sasha is your typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She was brilliant and quirky and Theo was completely in love with her...and I'm not sure why. Maybe because she was incredibly intelligent and beautiful? I don't know, she didn't have a lot of depth to her. The whole cast of characters were just so superficial and one-dimensional  Theo had some depth to him, as well as Jude, but not enough to make me fully connect to them.

The pacing was good, as always. James Patterson's books are fast-paced; that's what makes them so easy to read. I also enjoyed the plot in the beginning of the book. There was a sense of intrigue and suspense, but those thrilling aspects kind of faded throughout the book. The middle section lagged quite a bit and not that much happened. The revelation I didn't see coming and it wasn't what I expected...it was quite heavy and I think it needed more sensitivity.

Like I said, I enjoyed this book in the beginning, but I lost some interest towards the middle and didn't like the ending at all. This book was quite dark, yet it gives no warning on this in the blurb. Theo's dad committed suicide after being diagnosed with ALS. I did think the author wrote Theo's emotions towards the situation with sensitivity, but it was the ending that I had a huge problem with. It is the ending so don't read the following paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled.

So towards the middle/end of the book, it's hinted that Sasha is hiding a secret. It was revealed in the last 10 pages of the book. It's an awful, awful situation and I think it was very irresponsible of the author to reveal this in the last 10 pages without properly addressing it. The situation also had NOTHING to do with the rest of the book. It literally added NOTHING to the story, especially as it took up, like, 5 pages. It didn't explain the character, her actions, nothing. It was completely random and irrelevant and clearly only used for a shock factor, which is highly inappropriate. So what is the secret? Well, Sasha who's been living with her father the past four years, reveals her father has tried pursuing a romantic relationship with her and sexually abuses her. WHAT. THE. HECK. It's one of the most despicable things that can happen and the author doesn't even address it? Yes, there's justice in the end, but literally all that's written is Sasha telling Theo and then a couple of sentences about what happens to the characters afterwards. It wasn't even hinted at throughout the book, none of Sasha's actions were really linked to that...I mean, come on. It was so problematic. The author included extremely heavy topics that weren't dealt with at all. They were simply there for shock value which isn't okay.

There was also a lot of strong language in here, which I'm not a fan of. A lot of young teens might read this book, as James Patterson has written books for a lot of younger teens, but it deals with sensitive topics in a manner that is irresponsible. That combined with crude language and humor, stereotypical characters and a lack of plot leaves me feeling very disappointed.

I give it: 2/5 cupcakes