Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Friday, August 12, 2005

Kung Fu High School,coming to a theater near you

Kung Fu High School is actually a book but I would be truly surpised if Hollywood hasn't yet come a-calling for film rights to one of the most action packed and emotionally charged books I've ever read in my life. The plot is simple:MLK (Martin Luther King)High School has become a all-out gangbanger warzone. Every student is in a gang,either to oppose Ridley,the local druglord or working for him-every authority figure knows about it but they're either on the take or just minding their own. Into this situation walks Jimmy Chang,a young and legendary marital arts champion who has recented vowed to give up fighting after a run-in with the law and decides to stay with his cousins,Cue and Jen B,who are main members of the Waves,one of the gangs not tied to Ridley.

On his first day,Jimmy gets"kicked in"-an inititation ritual where you get beat down and I'm not talking about a few punches and kicks here. In being "kicked in"bones breaking and permenant scarring are the norm. Jimmy refuses to fight back and when Cue intervenes,a domino effect of
death,loss and major league showdowns is set off.

Jen is the narrator(she has a bit of a not-so-cousinly crush on Jimmy,yet another complication to the plot)and altho,she sees herself as "Cold Jen",she is the heart and soul of this story. Trapped in a hopeless mess with a father who was crippled at his construction job and dependant on his daughter's care,guilt ridden by memories of her dead mother and being made a pawn in Ridley's game to wipe out any competition,Jen wavers but never falls down in her mission to avenge her loved ones and do what is right by the code of honor present in her world.

Time Out in London compared Ryan Gattis(this is actually his second novel-his first one,Roo Kickkick and the Big Bad Blimp,came out in the UK)to Bret Easton Ellis but this is a fella who is more in step with Chuck Palahniuk and just as damn good. At times,I was reminded of the great '70's cult classic The Warriors(most folks will think of Battle Royale)but what hooked me into finishing this book is the realism laced with kung fu storytelling and pop culture bites that snap just right. Hell,it reminded me of when I was in high school(which had a notorious rep for plenty of good reasons). In this day and age of Kill Bill,Sin City and Kung Fu Hustle,it's nice to see a literary equilivent at a bookstore near you.

No comments: