EXPELLED is the brainchild of James Patterson and Emily Raymond, in which four teenagers, some guilty, some not, are kicked out of school following odd events. In order to uncover the truth of the incident that abruptly ended his junior year and to prove his innocence, Theo convinces the group to make a documentary film. What Theo ultimately finds will shock him, as the reality of the situation and the reason he was framed are much darker than he could have imagined. The ending of EXPELLED serves up a few moral lessons; everything is not always as it seems and everyone has their own private demons.
This novel is exactly what I would expect from an experienced author like James Patterson. The plot moves along flawlessly and without any gaping holes. The characters are nuanced, interesting, and resourceful. They shift and change over the course of the book, each having his or her own personal arc. Even the dialogue is perfect. The way each character talks is believable, authentic, and most importantly, feels specific to them. Overall, the book on a whole is widely enjoyable and entertaining. It somehow is both dark and lighthearted, fusing both a coming-of age-drama with a whodunit mystery.
Ultimately, I would have loved to see the documentary take on a bigger role in the story. When the idea is first introduced, it seems as though it is going to influence the structure of the book moving forward. Instead, it ends up taking a backseat to most of the action. For me, the student film needs to be more relevant or taken out completely, as the interviews on camera are a bit lackluster and do not seem to advance the plot in a specific way. Because the documentary is not what saves Theo, he could have launched his own investigation without the assistance of a camera and came to the same conclusion.
I also would have liked to see Sasha’s “crime” related to the photo incident, rather than a random event with coincidental timing. In turn, she would have been more bonded to the task of finding the real perpetrator, and it would have made the final result more complicated.
All in all, EXPELLED is a quick and easy read that ebbs and flows in all the right places. It is a great book to read on the beach, the airplane, or a rainy day in bed.