I was approached by the author’s publicist offering a copy of Lords of the Schoolyard by Ed Hamilton in exchange for this review. As always, I’m opinion is my own honest impression of the book reviewed.

Excerpt from the back cover: “Stark, brutal, at times darkly humorous, and written in a powerfully pared-down style purged of any ostentation, Hamilton’s story is told from the point of view of one such antisocial bully.” Pared-down is correct. This novel’s story and characterizations are devoid of skill and finesse. I wasn’t even slightly engaged with the narrator.

Hamilton is writing from the perspective of an eighth-grader as the story begins. Problem is, the writing just doesn’t sound like any of the eighth grade boys I know, and I’m a mother of four sons. At the same time, I can’t imagine a mother and teacher calling her own son an idiot, especially to another kid. Of course, that story is told by the narrator, who must be incredibly unreliable or flawed in execution.

One of the keys of good storytelling is to show the reader the story, not to tell them. Unfortunately, Hamilton simply tells us the story without much dialogue and with an overabundance of personal pronouns. On one page alone, there are eighteen uses of the pronoun “I,” and such usage is repeated on every single page.

According to the cover blurb, the author is going for anger and dark humor, but it was nothing but self-conscious mediocrity for me.

I can’t rightfully give this book a star rating, as I abandoned it at page 44.