Young author’s sophomore outing depicts equal opportunities violence

This post was written by Friday guest blogger Emma Garman.

Kung Fu High School by Ryan Gattis is another novel that promises to straddle the young adult/mainstream categories. Although not for the squeamish, this dystopian portrait of a violent school strictly divided along gang-lines is gripping and original. From a BBC website interview:

The novel’s main character, Jen, a half-Latina, half-white 15-year-old, cousin of kung fu master Jimmy, is a girl who can mix it up every bit as fiercely as the boys. “Far gone are the days of girls being made of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’,” asserts Gattis. “What’s interesting to me is that we’re only recently seeing an increase in a more realistic look at the complex inner workings of females, especially in regard to violent tendencies.”

“Tendencies” might be understating things a tad, what with the book’s body count swelling like a Fibonacci series, the violence painstakingly detailed. But Gattis doesn’t hesitate in defending his blood-and-guts-and-lungs-and-spleen approach, dismissing “fantasy violence in movies and on television, wherein the corporeal violence depicted often has little or no physical consequence for the characters on the screen.”


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