Sunday, May 20, 2012
Author: Eric Devine
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: September 11th, 2012
When I first saw the title of this book, I was expecting something akin to the movie Never Back Down with epic fight scenes and an ending where everyone comes out happy. Tap Out proved that not everything MMA related is awesome.
In this review I'll be addressing three main issues:
The language and prose used throughout this book is rather crude. There was rarely a page where profanity wasn't used. While it may have fit the setting and resultant characters used, to me it cheapened the experience of reading the book. The author was clearly looking to make it more badass and appealing to young male readers. The F-bombs and others like it in the author's vast arsenal has been dropped so frequently that you expect to see fallout on every page, and it makes you go back and double check when it doesn't happen.
I can't really say much about the trailer-culture since we have no equivalent here. We're a lot more socialist than the US so the poor peeps are generally taken care of by the government and given cheap or free homes to reside in. Actual houses or flats rather than the trailers that some Americans live in. It was rather shocking to read about the conditions in trailer parks in the story and the generally moody teenagers who seem to dominate it.
While the later parts of my childhood was spent in middle-class conditions, my family wasn't always that lucky. We used to be among the hardcore poor (among Malaysians) despite my parents having had university degrees. We had this really small 2 bedroom home that we rented. My dad had a nearly two decade second hand car with a door that was nearly falling off, and actually did at one point (Thank you Proton). Life improved greatly after my dad decided to pursue his masters and subsequent PhD overseas and then got a cushy job in government teaching local graduates. But before that, we couldn't afford shit and had to ration groceries. I never got anything from my parents and our clothes were always secondhand. While we never actually starved due to cheap local food prices, white rice with egg and kicap masin was common fare back then. So I can somewhat relate to the poverty of the main characters in this story.
Now back to the book. This is one seriously disturbing read. There's all sorts of violent and degrading content in it. Violence towards women, extortion, rape, murder, drugs...you name it, this book has it. In fact, there's a disturbingly large amount of violence committed toward the various women in the story. Tap Out is hell of a lot darker than anything else I've read in the realistic YA genre. I wouldn't really recommend it as a casual or fun read. It's so dark that I actually got depressed at times when reading about the conditions they lived in in the story.
The ending is the biggest issue and was what made this read wholly unsatisfactory. A major character is carelessly bumped off and the main character's reaction (or lack of) makes you question the point of everything. I know the author is trying to stand out and make his book different from all the rest, but the resultant turn of events is just so ridiculous that's it becomes unbelievable. The is no moral to this story. Everything in the story is basically padding to increase the page count. It has no effect on the overall outcome. I get that he's trying to get out and make something out of his life, but contrary to the blurb, he never does break out of the endless cycle of violence.
Overall: 3.5/10 (2 Stars)
Disclaimer: I got this book to review from Netgalley. However the fact that I got it from the publishers has had no influence on my review. This review is 100% honest and comes straight from my heart (lol).