Saturday, January 15, 2011

Violence 101 by Denis Wright

Characters: 15/20
Plot: 16/20
Originality: 17/20
Writing: 14/20
Recommendation: 15/20
Overall: 77/100 or C
Source: Publisher

My name is Hamish Graham and this is the journal I have to write. Doesn't worry me because I'm a good writer and I'd rather write than talk any day, although I like talking to Terry. The people who run this place don't know what to make of me. Just like the last place I was in . . .
. . . I think we should have these special schools for bad kids in hard core places like Waiouru and Central Otago where you do school subjects from 8am to 1pm and then in the afternoon you do things like compulsory mountain climbing and river crossings wearing huge packs. The kids who refuse to do it would get fed bread and water until they changed their minds. I would divide them into various teams and have mock wars. Military history would be a compulsory subject. I would also make the study of violence compulsory.
Hamish Graham is intelligent, disciplined, resourceful and fearless, and scorns all weakness. His heroes include Charles Upham, Alexander the Great and Te Rauparaha - all men of action. But he is also a fourteen-year-old with an anger problem and a disturbing past, and these have landed him in a series of boys' homes for violent and troubled young offenders.
The gripping series of events following his arrival at New Horizons culminates in a desperate rescue mission on a mountain that has already claimed the lives of two young soldiers.

This book was interesting, but where your stomach hurts from thinking about it and your mind is confused on if this is really happening. I don't understand how someone can be so violent and angry, while at the same time be really intelligent and logical. I don't believe that people are necessarily evil, but Hamish wasn't a good person most of the time. Most of his decision made me furious, but his analyzing of it, makes it strangely entertaining. Hamish is unable to relate to, which didn't make this book work well. I think that a lot of the other boys in the home would have been interesting.
The plot didn't engage me and it did at the same time, but it was like watching a psychological thriller that it sucked me in. This book was unlike anything that I have ever read before, but I don't think that this book should have been in the young adult section. A lot of it was focused on adults, trying to figure out what to Hamish, which while intriguing, was more educational then entertaining. Wright's writing was splendid, but it just didn't help the story. I would recommend this to people that are looking for an educational book and not necessarily entertaining.


  1. I agree with you; from your description this book doesn't belong on the YA shelf. Thanks for such an honest review

  2. I heard that this was a glimpse into the mind of a young psychopath, and while that sounds interesting, I think I'm going to pass on it. The spycholical aspect would be beyond entertaining, but I'm not too keen on violence, and seeing how that's in the title, I don't think I'd really enjoy this.


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