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Violence 101 Kindle Edition

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Length: 227 pages

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–New Zealander Hamish Graham is in his third institution–this time for violent offenders. Not only has he attacked other youth, but he also has attacked staff and a therapist. From a “good” family, Hamish could be labeled a genius and/or a sociopath; he has no qualms about his violent behavior, and, in fact, he elaborately and convincingly justifies it. The book alternates chapters between staff meetings to discuss Hamish and his lengthy journal entries. The journal provides insight into the 14-year-old's take on staff, group homes, his past, and international history. Obsessed with the normalcy of violence, Hamish studies and writes about leaders such as Alexander the Great and Maori chief Te Rauparaha, and wishes he had been born into a warrior society. What he doesn't expect is to start to care about a staff member. When he escapes the facility on an extreme mission of his own design that will either kill him or provide him with what he's always wanted, the book picks up speed. A lengthy glossary of New Zealand English and Maori terms and information about the country's history and culture are included. This first novel is for those “special readers”–the smart and antisocial ones–like Hamish himself.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Fourteen-year-old Hamish’s reputation is as fearsome as his rap sheet: he has tortured animals, gouged out eyes, committed arson, and, at age 10, killed a man by pushing him off a pier. Counselors at New Zealand’s New Horizons Boys’ Home, Hamish’s latest landing spot, put the boy to work writing a journal to express himself. The results, though, are shocking: Hamish has little remorse for his actions, jeers the adult staff, and demonstrates a canny self-awareness of his uniqueness: “This next stuff is going to sound really bad.” By aligning Hamish with such historical figures as Alexander the Great, Wright makes a strong, unexpected case for the kind of problem child who might have been celebrated had he been born in a time that prized brilliant savages. Hamish’s diary entries are masterful—sharp, funny, playful, and tonally consistent. The adult points of view that alternate these passages feel flimsy and forced by comparison, and the action-movie final act feels similarly hasty. None of this, however, diminishes the forceful portrait of a highly memorable antihero. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus

Product Details

  • File Size: 299 KB
  • Print Length: 227 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399254935
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 14, 2010
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003YL4AYO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #873,319 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Hamish is a very smart boy, who happens to have very violent tendencies. New Horizons is his third home for violent offenders. On his first day he viciously attacks one of the top dogs of this new home. This establishes him as some one not to mess with. This story is his story. Told in alternating viewpoints between Hamish's journal and a third person narration this tale is one of a boy who is too smart and too violent for his own good.

This is going to be a hard review to write, because even still a little over a week after reading this, I'm not sure what my overall opinion of this book is. I thought it was a beautiful and intriguing look into the mind of an intelligent but violent child. Hamish Graham has the mind of a serial killer, honestly. He thinks things through very logically, but his logic concludes that he is making the right choices. Who is to say that in the grand scheme of things he isn't? This book is not for the squeamish. Some parts were horrifyingly disturbing and it was so strange thinking that these actions were that of a young boy. It was also really interesting reading how Hamish can self-analyze his actions and realize that some of his choices were probably not the best ones. There were a couple of editing mistakes that irked me, but they happen I guess. Some of the New Zealand slang I didn't know, but luckily there is a glossary in the back. If you are really into reading about the human psyche then make sure you pick up this book. It was very, very interesting and I am glad I read it even if it was disturbing. I did hate the ending though. It was out of character and unrealistic. I was okay with Hamish deciding to climb a mountain, but the heroics were just over the top. If you read it I'm sure you'll know what I mean.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jenny, Wondrous Reads on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Violence 101 is definitely not for the faint of heart. As you might have guessed from the title, it is violent, though not gratuitously so; there's a reason for everything Hamish does, and most of the time it's intelligent and makes perfect sense. That's not to say I agree with all of his thought processes and actions, because I don't. I think his intelligence is both a blessing and a curse, and his ability to over-analyse everything doesn't always do him any favours.

Written in diary entries and including accounts from adults in Hamish's life, Violence 101 is the story of a misguided teenager trying to navigate his way through a violent world. His previous crimes have led him to the Manukau New Horizons Boys' Home in New Zealand, where all kinds of troubled teens are sent to reform. Hamish is seemingly far too clever for this, though as his story progresses, it becomes clear that certain people get through to him and appeal to his rational side. It's a long process, but eventually progress is made and Hamish is understood by someone other than himself.

Violence 101, and Hamish Graham himself, reminded me of the TV show Dexter. It's not as graphic or murder-heavy as Dexter, but Hamish's mindset and inner fight with himself reminded me so much of a younger Dexter Morgan. He has all these feelings and impulses which he knows are wrong, but yet he has to experiment for his own piece of mind. I've heard numerous reporters and experts say that violent people, including serial killers, are often overly intelligent and not the mindless criminals we perceive them to be, and I think that could actually be right.

Violence 101 is a clever book, which leaves you with lots of things to think about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In New Zealand, fourteen year old Hamish Graham is brilliant but believes the easiest best solution to any problem is attack. He does so logically not out of impulse or temper and knows the consequences of being caught as well as right and wrong. His heroes are those who comprehend what violence can do; for instance Alexander the Great understood the basics of Violence 101 when he conquered the world as the Conqueror overwhelmed the opponents with force and guile while also making examples of these losers. Hamish uses Alexander's philosophy as his own though he adapted it to modern times.

His latest violent act leads to Hamish being locked up at the Manukau New Horizons Boys' Institute. The facility's manager Helen Greenville directs Hamish to write a journal focusing on his life. He picks a fight with the inmates' top dog Victor, earning respect for challenging the champ and for busting his opponent's nose with a fork. Hamish's journal looks deep at his three idols Alexander the Great, New Zealand Captain Charles Upham and Maori warrior Te Rauparaha. He surprises himself when he begins to respect Terry the counselor and not shocking himself with his admiration of Toko the PE instructor who understands violence in sports. However, as he begins to comprehend his obsession, Hamish needs to be careful because others want to become the lead dog.

This is an amusing profound hyperbole that condemns society which encourages winning at all costs (steroids comes to mind) in sports, but also condemns those who take it beyond what is "acceptable", which conveniently changes to defend an end justifying the mean. Told mostly through Hamish's journals, readers will be spellbound by his belief in violence as this places H. Rap's Brown's commentary "Violence is as American (though in this case new Zealand) as cherry pie" with a nod to Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.

Harriet Klausner
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