Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Knockout Games, by G. Neri

Given all the news attention that's been on the "Knockout Game" lately, I was really excited to read a galley of G. Neri's newest book, Knockout Games.

The novel is about a used-to-be-innocent girl named Erica who moves to the big city of St. Louis with her mom after her parent's divorce. Erica is one of few white girls in her new school and is struggling to find a niche. One of her new teachers urges her into film, but Erica's crazy talents are discovered by the wrong crowd - a gang of kids run by leader Kalvin who plays the knockout game for fun.

Erica immediately gets wrapped up in the "games", taking videos for the club and uploading them to Facebook for the world to see. But when the gang takes out a community leader and accidentally kills his wife (who just so happens to be the same teacher that turned Erica onto film), Erica realizes just how deep into the terror she's become. She doesn't know what to do to pull her way back out, and she's worried that she's put her entire family at risk along the way.

Overall, the novel wasn't as great as I thought it would be. I thought there would be more discussion of the games, how they started, and the kind of nationwide appeal that they've garnered. But, it was very limited to this St. Louis crowd who had apparently been 'playing' for years. There was a lot of bad language in the novel, and considerable discussion of sex - I don't think it would be appropriate for my middle school classroom.

Publication Date: August 1, 2014

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