Press Play by Eric Devine: ARC Review

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult
Author: Eric Devine
Date to be Published: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Size: 368
Edition: ebook (ARC)
ISBN: 9780762455539

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Does the truth really set you free?

Pound by sweaty pound, Greg Dunsmore’s plan is working. Greg is steadily losing weight while gaining the material he needs to make the documentary that will get him into film school and away from the constant jeers of “Dun the Ton.”
But when Greg captures footage of brutal and bloody hazing by his town’s championship-winning lacrosse team, he knows he has evidence that could damage as much as it could save. And if the harm is to himself and his future, is revealing the truth worth the cost?
With unflinching honesty, author Eric Devine explores the debatable truths and consequences of the choices we make to get through each day intact.

Review:
So I discovered netgalley. After reading 4 fantasy books, I was burned out with all the world-building... and I still have 7 books on my ARC pile. It was hard choosing what book to read next that I decided to read a chapter for each copy before proceeding to finish one.

Press Play was the third book I skimmed. Well, supposedly because I was not able to put it down before I'm done with it.

I had no idea this book was middle grade. For my first impression, the cover was quite intriguing: a group of guys (couldn't tell their age then) with blurred faces in a line facing far off the distance with silhouette of others behind them. And then the title, Press Play. The cover and the title offer a wise marketing strategy for those who are into mystery and disturbingly provocative reads.

The story revolves around Gregory Francis Dunsmore's struggle in being an obese on his way to trim down. He is trained by his close-but-not-that-really-close friend Quinn whose father is a fitness gym owner. Greg is just really fat, the school's favorite laughingstock and it is a question to him why his handsome friend would hang out with him and even do his training.

One day in Greg's workout at the gym, they were roused by this weird noise of suffering at the adjoining room. Through some secret passage, they were able to discover that something bad happens during training of the members of the lacrosse team. The Warriors upperclass players beat up the lowerclass ones.

I'm not really much into school issues like bullying and hazing. For one, bullying isn't that rampant in my country. Caucasians (yes, I get to be racist now) just take bullying into such an extreme level. Hazing on the other hand mostly happens either to fraternity initiation in the top universities or skirmishes of gangs (or fraternities) of lowlife wannabes (out-of-school-youth). In short, to me hazing in my country happens to either the intelligent & rich kids (or just intelligent) or poor dumb ones. Yes, now I get to be judgmental.

Let me expound a bit about what I think of hazing in my country.

Young kids or young adults who don't have anything to do much (aside from loitering around) & have this fancy ambition to look tough would likely participate in the uncool activities of the poor side of the social strata in the country. And that's how they end up in pathetic versions of gangs and fraternities. Nobody cares much about them. In fact, partly the reason why the police force tends to overlook them. Even when troubles arise, nobody takes them seriously that the government tends to do nothing about getting these youngsters into the right path. The government is a different issue and I'd rather not talk about that.

The original meaning of a fraternity is that it is a social club for male undergraduates. And that's where people put their attention to when it comes to hazing.

People are always asking why there will always be hazing involved in fraternities. When will they ever stop? What I understood is that people in fraternities are groomed to withstand pressures in the real world. Whatever they do is like training. The pain don't mean much when you have camaraderie and you get to understand what real brotherhood means.

If you're an aspiring brother, you should never complain. What were you joining the brotherhood for in the first place? When you decided to join the team, you already know what to expect albeit little of what really are going to transpire once you're there.
Our allegiance is to the Warriors, our bodies weapons, ready for sacrifice. We will dominate at whatever cost to our opponent or to ourselves.

Press Play on the other hand has a totally different take. Instead of a school fraternity, you get a lacrosse team. A sports team. Shit like that isn't supposed to happen in sports.

Alva (the captain) and Gilbey (the vice) are these sick bastards. Not only do they do extreme things during training with their subordinates but they also beat others outside who get to be in their way.

After days of sneaking into the lacrosse team's training, shit hits the fan upon the discovery that their very own principal, Callaghan is involved in this sickly training, shaping the members to become the evil that they are. And whatever Greg will do will have a huge impact not just in the school but the whole town which gets its money from the Warrior's State success.
Put away your fear of being hurt and replace it with your desire to inflict pain. Then, and only then, will you ever succeed.

I really hate that part. Hazing is not supposed to be like that. You don't inflict pain to others just because you're a sick psycho enjoying others' suffering. You're supposed to inflict pain to make them learn and to toughen them up.

It fell into Greg 'Dun the Ton' to protect the future members of the lacrosse team and to expose those who are really responsible for what really goes on behind the success of the town. With the help of his friend 'Quinn the Queer' and newly acquired friends, 'double-stuffed' Ollie and 'slutty' Ella, he's going to make the best documentary that will make you press the play button in your gadget all over again.

While the story tends to be repetitive as what you can expect from a day-to-day school life, I find Eric Devine's narration really engaging. He keeps me wanting to know more. Press Play to me is a light and easy read. I could say it will cater much to its targeted audience: 14 & up.

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