Author: Alan Lawrence Sitomer
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: McCutcheon Daniels’ life is full of bone-cracking violence. As a star fighter in the gritty underground Mixed Martial Arts circuit in the poorest section of Detroit, McCutcheon fights under the tutelage of his volatile and violent father, not so much for himself but to survive as protector of his beloved five-year old sister, Gemma. We get to know McCutcheon as he battles opponents who are literally trying to kill him.
Huge thank you to Disney Hyperion for letting me read this advanced copy. I’m writing this honest review to say thank you!
I. LOVED. THIS. Everything but the ending. And the ending might be okay if there’s going to be another book (THERE HAD BETTER BE ANOTHER BOOK OMFG).
So, this is probably not the type of thing most people would think I would read. But most of you probably don’t know how much I love action movies, hand-to-hand fighting, and boxing. So a story about a teen mixed martial arts CAGE fighter in downtown Detroit? Hell. Yes. I was there. (if you don’t know I’m from Michigan so I feel some pride for D-town despite not being from that side of the state).
This book has so many things going for it. Male POV, non-white MC, takes place in the freaking murder capital, deals with some seriously tough subjects (I was HEARTBROKEN over the child prostitution part (no, there’s no actual prostitution, but there is a part where he’s searching for his sister and runs across a pimp who… pimps out kids. It was so sick. And yes, the MC kicked the guys face in) Totally heartbroken that that kind of thing happens in this world, let alone someplace I’ve been to), and had just such a unique premise.
McCutcheon, M.D., Doc, Bam-Bam. Our MC goes by many names, but which person is he? McCutcheon: the inner-city kid with straight-A’s, M.D.: teen-fighter-prodigy, Doc- the best older brother in the WORLD, or Bam-Bam: fierce cage fighter with the KILLA INSTINCT. He’s a mix of them all and he’s struggling to figure out who he is, how to provide for his sister, how to keep his head above water with his father and the gang that runs the city and his life…
McCutcheon’s father is awful. Just terrible. He was probably once a good man, but money and drugs can do a lot of terrible things to a person, and make that person do terrible things. And his father has. He’s basically sold McCutcheon out to the gang that runs Detroit (the Preists) and he has to fight to make money for the family and keep his sister fed. When McCutcheon’s science teacher sees potential in him and helps him get an opportunity to attend a better school, one where he’d have a future outside of the streets and the cage, McCutcheon starts to see a different future for himself, but then his father kidnaps his sister (and McCutcheon fears that his sister has been sold…) so he finally seeks out help.
I loved seeing McCutcheon’s struggled inside and outside of the ring. I loved how sure of himself he was, but that he also knew when to let others help him. I loved how he moved heaven and earth for his sister. I loved the light romance he had with a girl from his new school, and his happy ending. But man… the very end… (view spoiler) So yeah… I wasn’t a fan of that, and I am PRAYING for a sequel!
Dark, gritty, violent, this is so different and fresh and I loved it so much.