Anthony Eaton's Reviews > Violence 101

Violence 101 by Denis  Wright
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's review
Apr 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

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 - 16 year old boys, and my feeling is that he's pretty much hit his target square on. There are a few reasonably confronting scenes and images, but given the title of the book, that's to be expected, and it's always carefully contextualised and never gratutious. And despite the title, the central idea which drives the book forward isn't the depiction of violence, but rather the question of how much you as a reader can trust anything which Hamish tells you. His version of events and the reality of his situation regularly collide, and the reader is left to draw their own conclusions as to what's in the gap between the two.

My only minor criticism of the book was that I found the ending just a little too convenient and the outcome in terms of the character just a little unconvincing. But I'm reading this from an adult standpoint, and I have a feeling that the readership implied by this novel would probably feel differently.

Well worth reading.
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