Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Book Review: Brawler by Neil Connelly

Brawler by Neil Connelly book cover and review
While I readily acknowledge I am not the target audience, Brawler was not the book for me.

Mac has hopes and dreams of getting a full ride scholarship to the college of his dreams because of his wrestling skills. He blows everything when he throws a punch at a referee at the state competition semi-finals. Not only does this get him expelled from finishing high school, but he is also going to be charged for the assault.

I have so many problems. First of all, Mac has a lot of baggage from when he was little and his father beat his mother almost to death. Mac witnessed the whole thing. So he has anger issues. No counseling? Just throw him out? This problem was obvious way before his final wrestling match--his coach knows it, his mother knows it...uh...come on.

Mac gets "saved" by a mysterious guy who gets him involved in an illegal fighting ring, the Brawlers, run by a gang boss. He is allowed to beat guys to a pulp now and makes a lot of money doing it. But, he's also beholden to the boss, who makes him beat up other people who he is unhappy with. He's being trained by a high school girl, who for some reason knows how to fight. She is also indebted to the boss, so she must do this. Ummm....right.

So this goes on for most of the book, and every fight is explained in meticulous, gory details that I ended up skimming. Mac barely feels any guilt for what his life has become and what he is doing. And he is enjoying more money than he has ever seen.

In the last thirty pages, he decides what he is doing is wrong and fixes it. Very easily and quickly with barely any consequences. Really? Where's the moral? You want high school kids to read this and know that after all that, everything turns out okay for Mac?

The writing is good (very descriptive) and the plot moves quickly. High school wrestlers who are reluctant readers might be pointed to Brawler. But only if they are unimpressionable and realistic. This isn't a book I would have chosen to read on my own. It was sent to me for review. And to reiterate, I know I'm not the target audience. But still...I'm having a hard time picturing who is.

Published by Arthur A. Levine, March 26, 2019
ARC obtained from School Library Connection Magazine
320 pages

Rating: 3/5

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1 comment:

  1. Ugh. I am so not a boxing / fighting fan so this one will not make it onto my TBR list. But, even if a book isn't right for me, it's got to have some basic stuff like: let's take care of this teen and get him help!


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