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What Boys Are Made of

(Saint Flaherty #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In this gritty debut set in a dystopian Appalachia, S. Hunter Nisbet presents a stunning story of surviving the choices we make—and those that are made for us.

Simon “Saint” Flaherty is sixteen the day he enters a back-alley mixed martial arts fight in his Appalachian town. The odds are overwhelmingly in his favor, but no one expects him to win by accidentally killing his o
Paperback, 1st, 350 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Badapple (first published March 14th 2016)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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This is not romance. This is not YA Dystopian. This is dark, dark, dark. An after-war dystopian drama that twists your guts into pretzels.

A gem that called my name with that intriguing title and gorgeous cover.

It's given to us in 1st person multiple point of views with distinct voices for each character. The author feeds us the plot drop by precise drop so that we're constantly learning new things.

I think my face has frozen with eyes wide and eyebrows raised.

You never know when one of those prec
Where the swing of a baseball bat changes everything...

During an organised street fight one boy brings a knife to a fist fight and pays the ultimate price. His opponent, Simon 'Saint' Flaherty is just sixteen when he unintentionally ends a life and changes the course of his own...

His skin is as soft as child's as he presses his forehead to mine. Shoulders shake, and I am not so much held as cradled, his hot tears mixing with my cold ones. (...) but for these few minutes, as the shadows turn f
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What did I just read? Why did I not know about this book earlier?
I am very impressed.
Lisa The Novel Approach
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Being sort of a word nerd, I subscribe to the “Word of the Day” on one of my apps. When “unputdownable” popped up one day, I swore to all the gods of the written word that I’d never use it in a sentence.

I lied. Apparently twice, because I’m getting ready to write it in a sentence again: What Boys Are Made Of is unputdownable. It’s one of the finest nightmares I’ve ever read, which is saying something as a fan of the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and S. Hunter Nisbet has just written her
4 Hearts

This story was hard and necessary for me. Not a romance, or erotica, this is a dark thriller, set in a dystopian world where cage fighting is the best way to make a living, through betting, and fighting. The town is under the control of a cartel, and there are plenty of twists and relationship reveals that kept my mind spinning.

There is also some pretty heavy topics of sexual and physical abuse. This is definitely not a book for people with triggers who are healing or sensitive to this
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"What Boys Are Made Of"

The setting is Appalachian America in the not-too-distant future, but there has been a second civil war and most of the veneers of civility have been stripped away. It's the wild West all over again. The powerful over the powerless. The book centers on Simon Flaherty, a 16-year old, half-man, half-boy, and his guardian, Erin, a woman with a big heart and a fierce nature. Simon's only talent, or so he is told, is that he can fight, and he is being trained by Art so he can
Rachel Derby
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Strong storyline, good characters. Enjoyed this one a lot
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like on of those series where all the characters are miserable and most of them assholes on top of it, nobody likes anybody and you hate them all and it just gets worse and worse with every episode, any yet you keep watching because you can't just stop right when it's at the worst, right? It'll get better soon, RIGHT???

At the same time though, I couldn't really connect to the characters, I was confused as to why the POV characters were chosen the way they were while other important
Kendall Jungers
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fast Paced Familiar Grit

What Boys Are Made Of gives a gritty and haunting view of the blood, bruises, and emotional scars in a dystopian post-war Appalachia. Daily survival hangs over the heads of a cast of hardened characters, and life comes cheap here under the rule of a cruel shadow that no one dares question.

With a jumping narration, the story is set in motion as sixteen year old Simon finds himself winning a fight until a knife is thrown in, and Art equips Simon to defend himself. After kil
I received a free copy of this book but not in exchange for my opinion. It was just an introduction to a new (to me) author. With that being said, as soon as I read the last word, I purchased the second book in the series and preordered the next, which is a ~200 page novella. For me, this book was that good. It is definitely not a romance. It is dark and heartbreaking and suspenseful and just so good. Can't wait to start book 2! ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read about 40% but I just can't continue. There are too many alternating POVs and they all have the exact same voice. Progress is slow and while I do like the idea of the plot I just can't get into it. Everyone is miserable and there's no hope and that just tires me. I wanted to like it so badly but I can't. ...more
S. Nisbet
Jun 06, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
The sequel, The Mercy of Men, is out June 30th, 2016! Details to come soon.
the blurb sounded SO GREAT and the first page was SO COOL and then after what felt like ten pages i already started hating this so bad but continued all the way through because i'd already paid for it.
the frequent POV shifts kept me from really getting into the story and i felt they weren't even necessary in the first place. as if even the author couldn't bear their own characters for longer than three pages.
so many important things happened off-page - it was like every time something big happ

A grim and frightening look at a dystopia set in a very plausible future version of the USA, depicted from the viewpoints of 5 different people. Read over 2 days, with the last 40 or so chapters read over several hours before I went to sleep.

History and Setting: Some time in the near future, the USA had a three-way civil war. It was bad. There are mentions of 'cholera dead' and scalpings of Americans by Americans.

The town of Buchell, somewhere in Appalachia, survived the war and the peace treaty
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books. The books that I think will turn out one way, but they do another.

I expected less personal drama and more action, but I've gotten so attached to the characters that I'm not disappointed. Maybe it's because of the different points of view that this story is told from. There are five - if I didn't miss any when I counted - POVs, but a couple of characters who are not narrators have such strong influence that I feel like I've read a chapter or two from their POV.

Now don'
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story and world

This book started slow for me. I could tell from the start that the story would be complex and interesting, but the writing was a bit of a detraction.

Basically, the story is a Post-apocalyptic ensemble. The blurb describes it as "walking dead without the zombies" which is quite accurate. But the combination of the first person/present tense and the switching point of view with every chapter plus the dialect kind of gave all of the characters the same voice.

But I stick with
Gifford MacShane
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Is a chance to escape a life not worth living worth the danger of losing it altogether?

In the near future, a tripartate civil war in the US has left the village of Buchell in Appalachia under the boot of an oppressive cartel leader. The citizens have for too long allowed Jeff Petrowski to keep control of the town, for those who oppose him are nearly always found dead.

This is the story of Simon “Saint” Flaherty, a teenage boy whose one talent is fighting, and of Erin Livingston, who took Simon in
Stuart Baxter-Potter
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
S. Hunter Nisbet’s What Boys Are Made Of is a well-crafted piece of fiction. Set in the ruins of America after a three-way civil war has devastated the country, in an Appalachian town that was unfortunate enough to be among the losers, people are just trying to survive. But that concern is secondary to staying beneath the notice of Petrowski, the gang boss who runs the town. Sixteen-year-old Simon “Saint” Flaherty fights in the ring to quell his nightmares, and Erin Livingston gives him house an ...more
Vania Rheault
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read What Boys Are Made Of in just a few days. The story follows a sixteen year old boy, Simon "Saint" Flaherty and the people he knows and loves after war. Things are not the same in his town and this beautiful story takes us through the desperation of living day to day. When the risks outweigh the benefits of living that kind of life, he plans to flee with the people closest to him. Do they make it or is their plan sabotaged? S. Hunter Nisbet writes with an eloquence I have seldom read. Each ...more
Got this for free on a lark. I thought it would be more jarring to read due to the myriad POVs that the story cycles through, but was pleasantly surprised to find a very cohesive story fall into place after sifting through so many unreliable narrators. It's a pretty unrelenting story though; these people are in a desolate wasteland of a town, and struggle in some terrible ways to survive constant abuse, fear, and degradation. No one ever really gets a break, and some of the actions of the charac ...more
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free, and it was not my usual type of read. But it was extremely compelling and well written. The characters were interesting, and drew you in. I read this book straight through in a day, and did not want to put it down. For me, that is one of the best complements I can give a book. I am beginning the next book in the series - as soon as I have a day free!
Melissa Tiedtke Kuyoth
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I started this book and it took off like a freight train, and I didn't want it to stop! Please keep them coming. My favorite character is Simon. I received a free early copy in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a fun read

My main gripe with this book is that I feel like Simon and Connor's relationship\rivalry should have been fleshed out more. Other than that it's a fun and quick read, especially for anyone in a reading slump.
Julie Hillman
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic as always. Follow Simon from child to adulthood finding his way whilst being used by so many. Whether it be money, revenge or a sadistic parent. S. Hunter Nisbet at her best.
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S. Hunter Nisbet is an Appalachian writer of all things dark and unsettling. The most terrifying monsters aren't the ones we bar the door against, but those we let into our homes unknowing.

Check out Hunter's blog at for more details and a free short story, "The Foreigner's Loneliness."

Other books in the series

Saint Flaherty (2 books)
  • The Mercy of Men (Saint Flaherty #2)

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