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The Piranhas

(La paranza dei bambini #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,407 ratings  ·  232 reviews
In Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano revealed a true, devastating portrait of Naples, Italy under the rule of the Camorra, a crime organization more powerful and violent than the Mafia. In The Piranhas, the author returns to his home city with a novel of gang warfare and a young man’s dark desire to rise to the top of Naples’s underworld.

In Naples, there is a new kind of gang ruli
Hardcover, 349 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published November 10th 2016)
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Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Piranhas is a really compelling, fast-paced story about organized crime in Neapolitan youth. It's translated, but the language is beautiful, a stark contrast to the violence and ugliness of the world these young men live in. I was rapt from beginning to end. There are a lot of characters, which is a tiny bit confusing, but it's a fascinating, tragic story and one I would certainly recommend!

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Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novels is based on a true story. The story follows a group of boys in Naples Italy that strive to become Camorra Bosses Especially Nicolas. Nicolas is tired of being poor and he watches these bosses with money, power and control of everything. They have power and Nicolas want it. He'll do anything to get it and he does. This was an engaging story about these young boys and their quest for power. It is gritty and at times turned my stomach. A well written account of these young men and a loo ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

There is a tendency to romanticize the mob. Whether it is the fault of The Godfather movies or something more else, many people feel a certain affection for the mob. Perhaps it is a sense of loyalty or of family. Who knows? It is mostly a love for violence and mayhem, for instance in Scarface.

But that’s all Hollywood.

There are certain things that buck the trend – say The Wire, which is about drug dealers but also about the culture that allows them to exist and ho
The author is a journalist who made his name with his expose of the camorra crime gangs in and around Naples, as chronicled in his book Gommorah, the publication of which led to instant death threats and his spending the past decade under police protection. More people will likely be familiar with the excellent TV series based on that book.

Here, he attempts to use fiction to capture the lives of young teenage Neapolitan boys who aspire to a group life of crime. Their drives are pretty basic: res
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, book-2019
Teenagers wannabe crime bosses in today's Naples, that's the story in a nutshell.

The book is quite well written- kudos to the french translator who did a brilliant job, the teenagers' speech rings particularly true- stylistically but it lacks stucture and a clear narrative, somehow hesitating between true crime and fiction.

The cast is too big and a bit too similar (vapid teenagers look all the same after a while), the city's criminal hierarchy is unclear, which blurs some stakes, some people ar
Nov 26, 2020 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
I loved Gomorrah, but I found this book terribly boring. It’s a difficult story to tell, with kids desiring the be camorristi (mob) more than a decade-long addict wishing for their next fix. My problem was I found them boring: they are stupid, as only 15 yo whose head is empty can be. Yes it’s based on true lives of kids in the area. That didn’t make it any more interesting for me.
At 199 pages I was ready to burn the book rather than going on.
So I’m going to leave it there on the shelf. See if
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I just couldn’t get on with this novel, and didn’t enjoy it. I’ve no doubt that it reflects life in contemporary Naples and the author clearly knows what he’s talking about. His depiction of the gangs of young people whose only aspirations are to becomes drug dealers, make a lot of money and rise in the Camorra hierarchy is hard-hitting and disturbing. The narrative centres around Nicolas, just 15 years old, but already hardened to the violence, brutality and crime that surrounds him. He’s the r ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I read a good mafia story, and this one clearly didn't disappoint. Set in Naples, the book tells a story of a group of kids (mostly 16-year olds) who decide to establish their own paranza - a mob crew. Their leader, Nicolas or Maraja, is the brains behind all their jobs and strategic moves. I think what differs it from other mafia books is that the main characters were not seasoned mafioso, but inexperienced, reckless kids that didn't even know how to shoot a gun. All ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
This fictional account of youths breaking into the underworld of Naples, Italy shatters the romantic notion of gangland. Loyalties are ever-shifting. Violence is a constant. Friendship is temporary. Saviano does a masterful job at creating characters. Each of the many characters has traits that many readers could recognize in their fellow human beings. The environment is harder to share.

Nicholas is a teenager. He goofs around with his friends and is basically a bully. The book opens with him hu
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got a free copy of this for a review. This is a gritty and nicely written (and translated) story of a group of Italian boys who want to be wise guys, mafiosos, bosses. They find some success. I don't think the intent was to glamourize the violence, but the cruelty involved still left me uneasy. This is a sign of the strength of the writing. Bad writing only bores, it does not make you feel. Sure the feeling wasn't good, but if you like crime fiction and a tale of boys becoming brutal men, pick ...more
Dimitris Tsioumas
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roberto Saviano's first novel is a very good start for his involvement with literature. In our book, he describes how a group of children from small-town families get involved with the mafia and are sweetened by the rapid acquisition of money, fame and recognition, but also the catastrophic consequences of their involvement in these illegal activities. Paying them dearly. A nice miniature of the mafia in Naples. ...more
Cerys Evans
Finalmente l'ho finito.
Really did not rate this book, especially having read Gomorra before it. It felt like it was going on a bit too long. However, I may be biased against it because a large portion is written in dialect and I can just about speak Italian never mind Neopolitan youth slang. Maybe just give this a swerve is all I'm saying if you aren't from the region.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A kid in Naples embarks on a life of crime, quickly rising in the underworld hierarchy. Reminded me of a 70's Italian mafia movie. Even the dialogue seems like it was dubbed.

Nothing we haven't read before in this kind of thing.
Denys Teptiuk
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Totally recommend for those who loved "City of God", either the book or the movie, and the series Gomorrah. ...more
Zoe Radley
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. A bit too violent in some places and the main character I wanted to either be put in prison or shot... which is slightly worrying. But otherwise an almost true portrayal of how society can fail it’s young generation and turn them into a law unto themselves
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nicolas Fiorello is only fifteen when in Naples the forces between the clans are severely shaken. He is clever, his teachers have realized this already, and he is a naturally born leader. He sees his parents working hard every day and getting nowhere, this is not the life he dreams of. So what he does is fill the gap that has opened up. He creates his own paranza, a group of boys who are going to take over first the quarter, then the whole town. With an initiation ritual he binds them to him, he ...more
It opens up with a somebody literally pooping on a guy's face. It either gets better or worse from there, depending on your perspective.

So there were some things that are pretty good: I'm always down for a mob movie, and this book reads like the first hour of a mob movie--it's a nut-and-bolts look at the bloody rise from humble roots. There's a lot of wheeling and dealing and the characters pull some pretty ballsy power plays. I'm always down for a new setting, and the ghettos of Naples (Italy,
Alexandra Michelle
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
The Piranhas paints a picture of a struggling Naples, overwhelmed by organized crime and gangs struggling for control. I liked the story and Saviano's narration but was slightly overwhelmed by the number of characters and interlocking web of ruling families. Though this confusion did sort of lend itself to the ongoing cycle of new 'paranze,' more exposition would have been helpful. Still, I found myself invested in the young gang and was fixated on their progression throughout the novel. I admir ...more
James Robert
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Robert Saviano is a talented writer, and one that I always enjoy reading. This novel took me a few chapters to get drawn in, but once I got there, I was strapped in and ready for the ride. As typical of this author's writing, the world that has been created is vivid and realistic. It can be difficult to properly depict the use of social media, technology like group messaging and chatrooms, but this is done well, and even more impressively, weaved with cultural references throughout, however neve ...more
Cathy Sites
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Gruesome - even more so because they are just kids. This book's story-line was a similar to a Hollywood gangster movie where you know what is about to happen and just want to turn your head so you don't actually see it....but in this case you turn the page and read it. It's that willingness, no, that need, to turn the page that compels me to believe this is either well written or we humans gravitate to the twisted lives of others.

2 stars is a result of the translation of this book...there is bot
Tom Roth
I really enjoyed Saviano's non-fiction book Gomorrah, which was continuously exciting to read and made you want to keep reading on. This is quite special for non-fiction books, so I had high hopes of Saviano's novel about the camorra.

In the end, I'm quite disappointed. The story clearly has potential, but it is quite messy and all over the place. The number of characters is way too big, and most of them are not introduced properly anywhere. Also, the author sometimes makes huge time leaps which
Ralph Blackburn
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Piranhas by Roberto Saviano-I remember a younger time when "The Blackboard Jungle" talked about teenage violence. Then "The Warriors" came along, and I thought things couldn't get much worse, but this story, abet a true telling, is so much scarier than any Hollywood Youth Gang film. Kids in Naples just want to have fun and kill a few people along the way. Very gritty and relentless, with few redeeming qualities, watching Nicolas fight his way to power. I enjoy some true crime stories, and I ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent envisioning of what the youth of Naples aspires to become. Very reminiscent of the television show that Saviano's previous work inspired; in fact, it would be a pretty good storyline if they ever decided to pursue it. One minor flaw is that none of the characters evoke enough pathos for me to get fully emotionally invested. Other than that, it's like movie HBO's The Wire to Napoli. Great dialogue throughout, and while this version is translated to English, I'm very happy they left m ...more
Brooke Dexter
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This story of “la paranza dei bambini” is one that I found compelling in parts, but in others it was hard to follow the names of the many characters and I found myself lost in descriptions of those connections between them. But despite the lack of redeeming traits in these boys, it intrigues you as the reader and brings you into their world, one constructed around attaining money and power.

There’s a really interesting infusion of dialect from Naples that makes you wish you knew more about it be
Kathleen Gray
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Saviano has chronicled the tale of a group of teens in Naples, Italy who aspire to be criminals. Hmm. It's dark and gritty and there are lots and lots of characters. Unfortunately, I did not find any of them sympathetic enough to follow. Intriguing but not my cup of tea and I dnf. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. While I did not like it as a novel, this might actually make a very good movie. ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know where to start. I don't write reviews and nothing I'd say anyway would do this the justice it deserves but oh shit what a story. Imagine being strapped to the back of a TMax going 70+ mph and it feels like that. You kind of want to get off because there's large parts of the ride that make you feel sick, but you're glued to the seat regardless. It's epic and unsparing. Highly recommended. ...more
Sandra Burns
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book. For me, it took me almost half way through, before it became really good. Maybe because this is not my culture, but I have read books outside my culture in the past. They were easier for me to get into.
This was well written, but would have been more enjoyable without some of the first half of the book.
Jason RB
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
Really interesting read as there is a fine line between glamorising the mafia and the limited options so many people who fall into this line of work have.

At times it is uncomfortable reading and at other times funny even if you have to remember what the subject matter is and the problems this lifestyle creates for others in Southern Italy
Margarida Ferreira
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
The piranhas has a very fast and involving narrative. The way the author describes the action is very compelling. I could not let go of this book. Even though there are a lot of characters and sometimes is hard to keep track it's a marvellous book that I will recommend to all my friends. Also the use of dialect in the english translation was a very smart move. ...more
Cheryl Hager
Came across this book last year as a ARC, then later found it on Overdrive in audio. It was nothing like the other mafia books I usually read-gritty, dark, some romance, and characters with some redeeming qualities. Found this too bland, with too large a cast, to hold my attention. I skipped ahead chapters to see if I wanted to continue...nope.
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Roberto Saviano is an Italian writer and journalist.

In his writings, articles and books he employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra (a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization), exposing its territory and business connections.

Since 2006, following the publication of his bestselling book Gomorrah (Gomorra in Italian), where he describes the clandestine particula

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La paranza dei bambini (2 books)
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