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Knockout Games Hardcover – August 1, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (August 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467732699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467732697
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The results are thrilling... the author's meaty ideas and exciting action sequences blend together perfectly. Harsh and relentless, a tough but worthy read." - Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)
"The indispensable Neri (Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty) delivers another strong shot to the chin with this bracing look at the initiations of sex and violence." - Booklist
"Neri skillfully portrays the moral and emotional turmoil of a teen desperate for acceptance. Racial and social undercurrents further give this story an intense, thought-provoking edge." - Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free verse novella, Chess Rumble. His novels include Surf Mules and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning Ghetto Cowboy. His latest books include the YA novel Knockout Games, and the picture book biography Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. His work has been honored by the Museum of Tolerance and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Antioch University, the International Reading Association, the American Library Association, the Junior Library Guild, and the National Council for Teachers of English. Neri has been a filmmaker, animator, teacher, and digital media producer. He currently writes full-time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
G. Neri presents a gritty tale of a group of schoolkids in middle and high school who have been playing the "knockout game" to pass the time. Lining up a diverse cast the story is told, mostly, by Erica who experiences a bumpy road to moral fortitude. Erica's relationship with Kalvin, is intense, wrapped in emotional insecurities and a longing for a solid place in the world. The racial dynamics come off as cliched at times but take the opportunity to highlight the evolution of how youth perceive race without playing "the card".

As Erica's world spirals out of control and every decision attached to real consequences, Neri's writing unveils the realities surrounding social and criminal justice, and the dangers of groupthink. Writing with authenticity you're hard pressed to find a more authentic voice for urban youth today.

Disguising a plethora of timeless morals, this is 300 pages of real talk.

Why I'll be sharing this book with my students...

Knockout Games was inspired by a true phenomenon that was occurring around the U.S. (it may still be happening... not really sure). Neri in turn wrote the novel which focuses on many issues in society today including race related issues, adolescent violent crime, group/mob thing, bullying and abuse. I also really appreciated the viewpoint of how the justice system works and the complications that can arise. I will be sharing this with the collegiate students I work with who enjoy gritty, African-American reads and hope to donate a copy to our campus library.

In the wake of several social justice issues occurring in America right now, Neri's prose is not only relevant but a crystal ball for a number of youth I work with everyday. Once I got started, I couldn't put it down to where I even loaded it on my phone and kept reading when I had a moment to spare.

*Review copy provided by the publisher, opinions are honest and my own.
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Format: Hardcover
G. Neri first came to my attention with the ridiculously titled SURF MULES. I gave it a chance because it was summer and I was bored, and I loved it. I've kept an eye out for his name since. His latest novel, KNOCKOUT GAMES, is ripped from the headlines. The Knockout Game sounded like some fad made up by the media, and to some degree it is. But where it is played, people have ended up in the hospital.

Neri has the good sense not to sensationalize the story, but to humanize it. He gets into the bones of why someone might play such a stupid, hateful game. Some of it comes from the young age of most of the players, still in middle school and eager to seem impressive. Some is the high from the violence. It's a combination of factors.

Erica Asher, unlike most of the players in her town, is white. But she has her own camera and a pretty good eye, and the players like having their knockouts filmed. As she gets more involved with the game, she also becomes more involved with the Knockout King, Kalvin. He's charismatic, genuinely talented, and kind and sensitive when he talks to Erica alone. But the sweet boy she falls in love with is also capable of great cruelty, some of it directed at Erica.

Just as Neri builds up the reasons why, he tears it down with a realistic description of the consequences. KNOCKOUT GAMES is not preachy - in fact, some people get away with more than they should and some get away with less, and both sides are a tragedy. The racial implications of the Knockout Game are also explored. (Although the real-life trend of Jews being targeted is avoided.)

KNOCKOUT GAMES is a tough read. It's violent, and the sex (which the heroine wants) leads to unfortunate consequences (as it is filmed without her consent).
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Format: Hardcover
When fifteen-year-old Erica Asher moves with her mother to St. Louis after her parents' breakup, she is sent to Truman High School. Erica immediately realizes she is one of only a handful of white students in a largely African-American school. She is warned by the school's disciplinarian that the school had once been a hot bed of violence and insanity, until he arrived, and told she better not become a problem. When an altercation with Destiny, one of her primary abusers, threatens to get Destiny sent to the alternative school, Erica takes the blame and Destiny immediately befriends her. In an attempt to seal a friendship, Erica shows Destiny a video she's mixed, impressing Destiny so much with her artist's eye that Destiny invites her to meet some of her friends. What Erica discovers is the TKO Club. This "club" is a group of middle and high school boys led by the Knockout King, a dropout named Kalvin. These boys target unsuspecting citizens and rush up to them, hitting them as hard as possible in the side of the head...a knockout. At first Erica is shocked by the violence, but as she spends more time as the club's videographer, she begins falling for Kalvin's charms and tries to justify her part in the boys' games. G. Neri does an excellent job of portraying both the "high" the boys get from their wanton violence and the horror of such a random act on defenseless citizens. He shows the pain and anguish such violence causes not only the victims, but the community as a whole, and when a death results from the game, Neri carefully outlines what happens to the young offenders without being preachy. In an author's note, Neri discusses how he learned about the knockout game in 2012 and was inspired to write the story.Read more ›
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