You Killed Wesley Payne
Author: Sean Beaudoin
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 1, 2011
How Received: Publisher
Summary: He’s come to do a job.
A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.
You killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn’t whether he’s going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he’s gonna get the girl. He
alwayssometimes gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of “The Body” before it solves him.
You Killed Wesley Payne is among my list for “most unique books ever read”. We follow the storyline in Dalton’s perspective as he enters Salt River High to solve a mystery. Salt Water High is one of the most interesting high schools I’ve ever read about. Teenagers used to carry guns in the hall ways, and the school system is so corrupt that you need to pay people to get anything—even your own school schedule. I’m not sure about you guys, but I have never encountered any high school like Salt Water in real life. I’d be broke a hundred times over if I went there.
That being said, the novel was highly entertaining and very humorous. Something was always making fun of something else, and a lot of the ideas in the book are far-fetched. (See above paragraph for crazy high school). There were a couple of times where I laughed out loud (in a good way) from the absurdity of some of the things/ideas in the book.
In Salt River, there are a ton of cliques. And when I say a ton, I mean a toooon. I had a bit of troubling remembering which clique was which, and which clique was a sub-clique of a clique. There is a sort of glossary of cliques in the front of the book, but each clique had a description that I can only describe as a wall of text. Normally, I don’t mind reading stuff like that. However, when I’m in the middle of the story, I just want to focus on the story. My mind tends to wander, so after having read a big description on a clique, I’ll forget why I was looking it up in the first place. The cliques are a very important factor into the book, because everyone seems to take their cliques very seriously. Once you’re in a clique, you live and breathe just your clique.
Like cliques, there were also a ton of references in You Killed Wesley Payne. That may not seem like such a bad thing, but there were so many references that the glossary-of-references was about 12 pages long. I could guess what most of the references or slang were because of the context they were used in, but someone else might get confused by that – especially since I personally didn’t know there even was a glossary until I finished the book.
As far as characters go, I think I enjoyed reading about Dalton and Ronnie Newport the most. Dalton was a generally good guy, and I enjoyed reading the way he rationalized about things. He always did his best, even though it seemed like he was doing nothing at all. Ronnie, well... Ronnie was just Ronnie. Out of all the characters, he was the coolest and the least cold-hearted of the bunch.
And lastly, the mystery... All I’ll say about the mystery is that everyone is not who you think they are. Predictability-wise, I was able to guess who killed Wesley Payne the moment they were introduced, but I think that was just pure luck with a wild guess based on previous mystery novels read.
Cover Musings: It’s alright. I love the outline for Dalton. But as far as attention catching goes, I’m not sure I’d pick it up based on the cover alone.
“Or haven’t you noticed? The only thing that matters is to act like you don’t care. And don’t say a word. Something really bad happens? Pretend it doesn’t exist. Move on. Keep working the rackets. I mean, there’s people shooting off the rooftops, for Bob’s sake, and it’s like, hey, just another day in geography class.” (pg. 64)
Dalton peered over a cardboard box full of disassembled Christmas tree parts. In the back corner, a large, dark shadow flickered, moving slightly. It was hard to tell if the thing was ducking between boxes, or if it was the effect of the bare bulb hanging over the utility sink.The one that Dalton hadn’t turned on.Run. Scream.There had to be a better option.Pee pants? (pg. 106)
Mole pulled the Kia next to Dalton’s scooter and revved the engine. “Love you, man.”
“Okay,” Dalton said.
“Okay? Okay, guy? What’s that all about? Where’re the warriors expressing their true feelings in a manly but totally expressive way before going into battle?”
“We’re not going into battle.” (pg. 249)
He wanted to ask what you did when you thought you knew someone, when you let down your defenses and let them see a part of you that you didn’t even know was there, and then it turned out you didn’t know them at all. He wanted to ask what you did when there was no way to scream loud enough or run fast enough or punch something hard enough. When there was just another morning and just another lawn and not a single thing to look forward to. Ever. (pg. 301-302)
“Mom says the doctor says I have ADD. You know what that stands for?”
“Attention Deficit Disorder?”
“No. It means Absolute Dictatorship, Dude. It means I was born to be in charge.” (pg. 309)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: Overall, You Killed Wesley Payne was a highly humorous novel that’s loaded with mystery around every corner. Not everyone is who you think they are, and alliances between cliques can go from friendly to assaultive in the matter of minutes. It isn’t the best book out there, but I did enjoy reading it a lot. There were a ton of references and cliques that were hard to grasp during the first 100-or-so pages, but there’s a glossary provided for both in the front and back of the books. If Dalton’s stories were made into a sequel, I’d definitely pick another one up!
**I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.