I found this novel a hard one to read. Potential readers should be aware it begins with a domestic violence scene, a trigger some readers may find difficult to handle. I had difficulty liking the characters and I certainly could not identify with them. One laughs at the fond memory of a fighter breaking another fighter's clavicle. (70) Adri, the heroine, and her acquaintances go to a bar and drink too much and dance suggestively. (75)
And then there is the whole atmosphere of violence. It is not a world I want to read about. Schober writes, “For Adri, mixed marshal arts isn't just blood and sweat and hurting someone. It actually lives up to its name as an art – the art of using one's mind and body in unison in an unparalleled test of the will.” (73) My idea of the art of using one's body in an unparalleled test is gymnastics, or swimming, distance running, or ballet, not deliberately hurting someone, pummeling them until they fall to the mat, bruised, bleeding and unconscious. Where is the fruit of the Spirit in martial arts fighting, in “hurting someone”?
This debut novel by Schober is quite an accomplishment. There is character and spiritual growth. There are well crafted fight scenes. Unfortunately, reading well crafted fight scenes was not something I found engaging nor encouraging. While the writing was, in general, quite good, I found the present tense to be distracting.
This is a novel for readers who appreciate the violence associated with mixed martial arts. It was just not to my liking.
You can read an excerpt here.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
Carmen Schober is a debut novelist, wife, full-time mother of two daughters, avid boxer, and Rocky enthusiast. She is a graduate of Kansas State University where she earned a master's degree in English literature and creative writing. She has publisher sports fiction and regularly blogs about faith, family, and fighting. She lives in Manhattan, Kansas. You can find out more at www.carmenschober.com. Photo: © Grace Burdick
Bethany House, 352 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)