Two teenager boys who are bullied and alienated in middle and high school plot a school shooting. In Jim Shepard's "Project X", narrator Edwin Hanratty and his best friend Flake are at the very bottom of what Edwin refers to as the ant-hill of high school. They are the outcasts that sink even lower in the ranks of popularity than the nerds, goths, and white trash students. Physically bullied, made fun of, and even ignored by parents and school authority figures, Edwin and Flake dedicate every waking moment of their lives to one of two things: intense and alarming apathy toward the world, or revenge upon the world. Initially, revenge is both relatively minor and typically fruitless for the two boys. From terrorizing an adult neighbor by leaving human poop on his picnic table to trying to poisoning the entire school with bug repellent to multiple physical fights with other boys at school, it seems as if Edwin and Flake are always crawling out of their plans of revenge, bruised, empty handed, and even lower on that ant-hill than before. After a while, it seems as though the two boys have nowhere or no one to turn to with their problems at school, what with their parents, teachers, and even vice principal reinforcing the idea that whatever is going wrong is their fault. Pushed to the brink of tolerance, anger squashes apathy for Edwin and Flake. One day Flake, who rises to the top of the novel as the more mentally disturbed and aggressive teenager, introduces Edwin to his father's gun collection. What ensues is a shared dream of the most ultimate and final revenge possible: a school shooting where just about everyone is a target. As the novel proceeds, Edwin's conscience makes small attempts to break free of both his anger and Flake's determined influence. However, reason does not prevail, as the two do in fact carry out their plan of vengeful mass murder, resulting in multiple deaths including Flake's. As the pages turn to the last, Edwin may be left alive with his innocence in the process of being argued (everyone insists that Flake was the mastermind, that he must have pressured Edwin every step of the way), but he cannot help but find himself wishing for his own death, back in the same situation, but now without his only friend at his side.
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Best part of story, including ending:
It shows the side of those we are least likely to side with in a mass murder situation.
Best scene in story:
On one the nights leading up to the shooting, Edwin's mother finds him in his room crying on the floor. The entire novel she can tell that there is something Edwin so badly wants to reveal to her. The reader can even see how badly Edwin wants to tell her his murderous plan just so that she can stop it. However touching and prying the conversation is, it is fruitless, as Edwin cannot bring himself to open up to his mother. This scene shows how difficult it is for a parent to extract anything from a teenage child, and how significant it can be to do just so.
Opinion about the main character:
Edwin shows such a strong sense of remorse on the final page of the novel. Remorse not for those innocent students killed in the shooting, but for his dead friend, Flake. Edwin is disgusted with himself for not dying alongside the only person who stuck by his side for the whole length of the novel.