cover image Tap Out

Tap Out

Eric Devine. Running Press Teens, $9.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-7624-4569-1

Faced with a variety of hard, unpleasant decisions, a teenager turns to mixed martial arts (MMA) in an attempt to take control of his increasingly difficult life. Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch can’t see any way out of a daily existence that involves a drug-addicted mother, her physically abusive boyfriend, and a meth-dealing biker gang that refuses to take no for an answer when they try to recruit him. Every attempt Tony makes to help his mother, avoid trouble, or better his situation inevitably turns sour, with his MMA training only making him a better, more brutal fighter. It all leads up to a deadly, desperate climax that leaves no one unscathed. Devine doesn’t pull any punches in this violent and graphic tale, and the visceral, profanity-drenched narration is in keeping with the subject matter. Women are used and abused, people are beaten and killed, and drugs and casual sex are prevalent. Moments of hope and optimism are far and few between, and even mature readers may find the story overwhelmingly bleak. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Sept.)