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Violence 101

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  210 ratings  ·  49 reviews
My name is Hamish Graham and this is the journal I have to write. The people who run this place don’t know what to make of me. Just like the last place I was in.

It is obvious why I am here. I am here because sometimes I do very violent things and I’m too young to be put in jail.
Paperback, Australian, 192 pages
Published 2011 by Black Dog Books (first published September 1st 2008)
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Confession: I would not normally be drawn to a book with this title/cover. So when it rocked up I wasn't too sure it would be my thing.

But, mate: it was insanely compelling, fascinating and just, ugh, I LOVED it.

I read it within two sittings.

It is a New Zealand YA book ~ released in NZ in 2007, and just now released in Australia.

It's the story of one fourteen year old New Zealand boy ~ who is transferred to yet another juvenile detention centre.

He's not a troubled kid with a sad past. He's a mi
First-time novel for NZ teacher and writer, I read this for a panel on violence in YA literature I chaired at the 2011 Reading Matters conference in Melbourne. It's a fascinating insight into the mind of a highly intelligent teenage boy with a deep reverence—and proclivity—for violence. Wright revealed during the panel that his (NZ?) publisher felt his ending was too bleak and required changes, and that he is not happy with the revised ending. Wright is working on a sequel, which I'll be really ...more
This review originally appeared at
Shirley Marr
I first saw this book in the middle of black dog books’ big communal reading table. It grabbed me immediately and I remember picking it up and thinking it was a text book! But no, Violence 101 by Denis Wright is a work of fiction and as the name suggests, it contains violence and some instruction about how violence should be dished out. It’s about teen boy Hamish Graham and the story of how he came to be incarcerated at a juvenile detention centre. It’s also been con-tro-ver-sial because of the ...more
Anthony Eaton
Hamish Graham, the central character of this book by New Zealand author Denis Wright, is a masterful creation, in many ways. He's utterly untrustworthy, brilliant, eloquent, horribly manipulative, and - for the most part at least - downright evil.

He's too young for prison, but too dangerous to be permitted to remain at large in the community, so he's confined to a series of boy's homes, where the staff struggle to manage him, despite their best intentions.

Wright has written this book for 14 - 1
Charlie Hirst
This book is about a boy in New Zealand called who is really smart and violent. It is written from his point of view and it's very freaky to see the way he uses his of thinking to make sense of his actions which is pretty interesting. I think he was at a special school for kids with issues. Hamish seems to be pretty weird and disturbed, the author could possibly have something to do with this by speaking about true stories, the author is Denis Wright and what iv read so far its pretty good
Oct 10, 2014 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a YA novel that isn't dystopian
Recommended to Maria by: the chapters store sale section
I recently went on a little mini vacation to Vancouver for a cousin's wedding. While on a random walking adventure I came across a Chapters store. Not exactly a landmark, but I can't resist walking into a book store whenever I see one, no matter where in the world I am. I usually tend to purchase books online instead of in-store nowadays because it is cheaper, so when I do happen to walk into a location, I head straight for the sale section. That's where I happened to come across Violence 101.

Far from even being mistaken for a study of the origins of violence - this is a truly fictionnal work with pure fictionnal main protagonist. Superficial characters leads to superficial story with a cliché conclusion and the construction of the story is so elementary. Also, no bad guys - talking about a fairy tale. Still, an easy read, can be finished in one or two days. Sympathetic characters. still, don't take this book too seriously, take a read from sociologists/psychologist if you want to ge ...more
To be honest, this is not the sort of book that I would ever choose to read voluntarily. I had to read it as its an option for the English program at my school, which I co-teach, and its read by a few boys every year, so I need to be able to help them to respond to it. So I am not the natural audience for this book, and maybe its a bit unfair to review it. But Here I Am, because you can't love everything.

Not well written, the dialogue of this novel is pretty amateurish and both dialogue and wri
Marita Hansen
Past: My thirteen-year-old daughter came home with this book today and as soon as it said it was set in Manukau I knew I was going to read it, because my book is set in the same part of Auckland. It also follows very troubled teenagers and tackles other issues relating to this locale.

Present: Although I did enjoy this book, I'm obviously not the target audience as this is clearly written with teenagers in mind. Unlike some of the reviews I saw, I didn't find it harsh or intense at all, but inst
Through the first 2/3rds of this book, I thought it was going to be a 5-star read for sure. Yes, it is quite disturbing at points, but I couldn't stop reading it and found the main character, 14 year old juvenile delinquent Hamish, to be fascinating. But then I finished it today, and the ending seemed a little rushed and unrealistic. But still, it's definitely worth the time to read it! It's set in New Zealand which can make it a tiny bit hard to follow with the culture-specific language, etc., ...more
Melissa Mcavoy
Wow, I thought this was great and unusual.

A debut novel published by a New Zealand author. Words like devastating are used to describe it and comparisons are drawn to Clockwork Orange and In Cold Blood. This did not thrill me, for while I do not dispute the greatness of those two novels, I couldn't stand to finish either of them. Thankfully I found Violence 101 entirely different.

In Cold Blood and Clockwork Orange compel the reader to desensitize themselves to violence and to participate in vi
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 sti
First 3/4: 4.5-5 stars
Last 1/4: 3.5 stars

Few books have left me feeling quite so divided as "Violence 101." For the first 100ish pages of this short, gripping novel, I was sucked in by Hamish Graham's chilly, compelling and utterly unique voice. I would still urge anyone who loves their YA with a little edge or spice to read this, because it's a magical book about a teenage sociopath. Hamish is no abused boy from a broken home: he's simply a super smart boy from a good, middle-class home who doe
Donna Burtwistle-Popplewell
When 14 year old Hamish, shows up at a special school for troubled boys, his reputation precedes him--murder, childhood violence and aggression,coupled with a superior I.Q. We learn about his mental state through journal entries which Hamish is instructed to write, as a part of his therapy. Dripping with arrogance and brutality, Denis Wright provides solid insight into the mind of a truly angry person.
Finn Campbell
I read this book because my mum gave it to me and told me I had to read it.

This book fits on the bingo board in the section "a book written by a New Zealander" This was made quite obvious by the use of kiwi slang and a NZ setting.

A good quote from this book is "these people are all incredibly boring and stupid."

Something I learned from this book is adults that think that they can write a book from the perspective of a teenager are dreaming. I didn't like this book because the main character wa
Leah Wener-Fligner
It's great that the author has a message but you do also need, like, a plot. And at least one character that is not a cipher.

I gave up 23 pages in. This includes the forward. The forward that explained the one dimension of the one-dimensional main character: He is a smart teenage boy with anger issues expressed through violence, too often dismissed as socio- or psycho-pathic, and identifies with historical smart violent people.

Maybe if I were a smart angry teenage boy I'd have liked it. Out of
Pam Saunders
Hamish is highly intelligent, highly violent, highly obssessed with Alexander the Great and he is totally out of control, esp when angry and the white noise starts in his head. He is also highly manipulative. Hamish is in yet another boys junenile detention centre where he finds himself challenged by the 'top dog' and again being anyalysised by the staff. This time he meets people who have the potential to become his real heros.

Not a read for everyone but secondary boys will find the characters
Brandi Bette
Author’s first book
14-year-old Hamish’s reputation is fearsome: 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, his latest juvenile detention center, put him to work writing a journal to express himself. This book alternates between his journal, showing us what goes on in his genius yet sociopathic brain, and the staff at the center.

From Benicia High School Booktalks 2011-09 &
Hamish, the main character of this intriguing novel, is only 14 but the community doesn't know what to do with him as he is too dangerous to be allowed to roam free, but too young for prison. He is very intelligent, though he hated school. If, however, he is interested in a subject, he can be brilliant. It's fascinating to see into his mind as yet another institution tries to work him out and get him to follow a more useful path. The alternating chapters allow the reader to see Hamish's thoughts ...more
This book was about a boy in New Zealand who was extremely intelligent and also very violent. It is written from his point of view (it's fiction) and it's very disturbing to see the way he uses his sense of logic to make sense of his actions. I found it fascinating. I think he was at a special school/institution for kids with behavioral issues. He appears to be a sociopath. So it's like what could possibly be a peek inside the mind of a sociopath...I can't remember but I think the author may hav ...more
not my first choice, but definitely loved it
Ariel Caldwell
I enjoyed 15-year-old Hamish's narrative voice and the changes in POV, most of the characters, the New Zealand setting, and the way the book addresses racism. However,the conflict between service provider adults who want to help and youth who have issues was mostly predictable. The climax and resolution was entirely too tidy and miraculous (really? Trev is a borsted boy too and happens to be awake to give Hamish a ride by 4 am??).
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Erin
BFF Charm: A Wary Yay?
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Julie/Julia
Bonus Factors: The Art of War, The Idiocy of Youth, Droogs, New Zealand
Anti-Bonus Factor: Bret Easton Ellis
Relationship Status: The Clarice To This Book's Hannibal

Read the full book report here.
The story line was believable, which I liked. It had over profanity used over 35 times in the book, which is the reason I am placing it on my inappropriate for my high school library shelf. I thought the use of self-therapy was intriguing throughout Hamish's narration. This book opened a window into a disturbed teenage boys head and I can appreciate that, but can not recommend the book to others.
Interesting perspective, interesting writing out of New Zealand. I had some trouble with the slang and NZ cultural references but a fascinating look into the mind of an ultra violent but intelligent teen. The book had a "happy" ending but I found myself still believing that the protagonist was simply a sociopathic, ticking time bomb.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Three and a half stars!! I'll admit some of what Hamish got up to disturbed me a little but the scary thing was you could kind of... Sort of (not that I agree with it at all) see how he could come to that conclusion so thumbs up for the characterization.
Good ending too. If like to see what else the author has written
This book was about troubled boys, as you could probably gather from the title. This was another quick read but one that was also rather interesting. In this book you get into the head of one of the worst kids at this institution....very good read I though, except I wasn't to fond of the way it ended.
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Denis Wright , Honorary Fellow of St. Edmund Hall and St. Antony’s College, Oxford, was British Ambassador in Iran from 1963-1971.
More about Denis Wright...
The English Amongst the Persians: Imperial Lives in Nineteenth-Century Iran Scoring For Brass Band The Persians Amongst The English: Episodes In Anglo Persian History Britain And Iran 1790 1980: Collected Essays Of Sir Denis Wright India Pakistan Relations, 1962 1969

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