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Violence 101

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  302 Ratings  ·  61 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
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Shirley Marr
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie-ya
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
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Charlie Hirst
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Edward Sullivan
This New Zealand import is quite a dark and gripping read with a fascinating main character. The positive resolution of the story, however, is a bit of a cop out given that it seems quite clear that he is a sociopath.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is compelling beautiful, and reveals the violence in all of us. Hamish Graham, has much to say about the world, but he sees everything through a violent lense. When Hamish is at the mercy of the world and his loyal companions, he realizes that that is what it feels like to have violence inflicted on us, with no signs of remorse from the aggressor.
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
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
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
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Maria (Big City Bookworm)
Sep 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  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
Shelves: read-2014
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.

Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Jin
Feb 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One one side, this book was very fascinating. I have never encountered a protagonist like Hamish Graham, and his delving into his mind made me pay attention and ponder. The writing was pretty good; Wright did a decent job of sounding like a smart 14-year old. However, I can't decide whether I felt sorry for Hamish or couldn't stand him. Maybe a bit of both, because for a kid as logical as he is, he truly believes that he is doing the correct thing. Note I said "correct", not right.

However this k
Ashley Haynes
This book had a very intriguing main character. Hamish is funny and smart, but also very self serving. He did a lot of things out of childish curiously that he backed up by saying it was for some form of research.
I enjoyed reading this. It was a short book and an easy read, leaving me satisfied at the end of each chapter. The other characters in the book were all equally interesting and I enjoyed how the author dove into their back stories at times. Though I found it distracting from the main p
Najwa Aslam
so as a child and youth worker I was extremely compelled to pick up a book on a 14 year old boy who has anger issues. I myself have worked with a few of those such boys. now, the first part of this book was great - I loved the whole arriving to this new facility and meeting all the workers and getting to understand our main character through his journal entries. but then, the second part of the book happened and no spoiler here but WTF?! I was just flabbergasted at how our character went from a ...more
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
Jul 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Violence 101 is a book about a brilliant teenager named Hamish who has extreme anger anger issues. He is very self-reflective, but the blurb on this website says he is "extremely misguided". The blurb is not entirely correct. The blurb is correct that Hamish believes that violence is an answer to life's problems, which he does. The thing is, Hamish does not just chose to be violent for fun. He uses violence to end problems (Which does not make it okay). He does not just walk up to people and pun ...more
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
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 &a
Apr 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy The Catcher In The Rye
Hamish is a brilliant character. The story was written well, and though there were some sections that dragged and I believe it didn't serve to further the characters foundation or plot, Denis Wright creates a completely riveting look into the mind of a very disturbed young man. In a lot of ways Hamish Graham reminds me of Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye. His constant reassurances that everyone around him are inauthentic, being of similar privileged backgrounds, and t ...more
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.
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.
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??).
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.
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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.
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