What makes some people violent and others not? Is it nature or nurture that determines the tendency to inflict pain on others? Interesting topic, certainly, and one that could form the backbone for a fascinating novel--or NOT--in the case of Violence 101, New Zealand author, Denis Wright's take on the subject of violence in youth.
Presented as a series of journal entries by rebellious, smart, and yes, violent teen, Hamish Graham, Violence 101 is a shallow attempt to study a youngster who has chosen a path of violence... and in some cases extremely graphic and disturbing violence. With rare moments of complexity, the story revolves around a boy who is completely aware of his violent tendencies, and who revels in them, making the journal entries a narcissistic romp through the kid's self-centered imaginings.
The boy, Hamish Graham glorifies war, finds everyone else around him to be stupid, and has delusions of grandeur that are lamely destroyed as the story comes to a climax. The resolution of the narrative is flat and uninspiring, and I felt no compulsion to pity or even to understand the boy, which I think was the intended point. I disliked him at the beginning and I disliked him at the end. Final word--I disliked the book!