Cover Image: Blood Sport

Blood Sport

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Member Reviews

I enjoy a lot of books like this, but Blood Sport just didn't work for me. The storyline and characters had me bored.
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Overall this was a quick and enjoyable read. Jason was a great character. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and I would have liked to see some more buildup for the reveal of what happened to Becca. I also would have liked to know more about her, because I felt like I didn't get a good grasp on who she was until the end. I was thrown off in the final chapters when the information was revealed about Becca catching on to X. How was she able to snoop and find those spreadsheets? Why didn't she mention it to Jason since they were so close?
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So I found the plot to be kind of lacking, but I think this book is extremely important. It’s own voices about a trans teen and it seems to be very well done. There is no misgendering, the plot doesn’t revolve around the boy being trans, and there is no unnecessary violence because he is trans. While a lot of books with a trans MC use their gender as a plot device, this book definitely didn’t and I think we need more books like that.
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I got an ARC of this book.

There are AMAZING parts of this book. I am mostly going to focus on those, because they are so very, very important to me. 

1. The main character, Jason, is NEVER misgendered in the book. The characters never slip-up, especially the ones that know. There is a point in the book where Jason's birth name/dead name/"old name" comes up. Another character, not revealed who, is the one who corrects the issue. 
2. Jason's transition is only talked about when it matters. There is a scene where he talks about how being on the bus is difficult, because of the issues he used to face before he passed. There is talk about him binding and packing. There is talk about his hormones. His transition was not the point of the book. The plot was not JASON IS TRANS like so many cis authors would do.
3. The author is trans. YES! You can tell a drastic difference when a cis author and when a trans author write a trans character. It is like when a male author writes a female author and it makes you cringe. Not every cis author is terrible at it, but I have yet to read any trans character from a trans author that is as bad as a trans character from a cis author. One day, it won't matter, but for now I am going to celebrate that more trans people are being published and it makes me feel safer reading a book. I did not expect to be triggered or anything else negative. I could focus on if I liked the book or not, instead of how terrible I was feeling.
4. There was NO and I repeat NO sexual assault or murder for the trans character. He had a hard life, but that was not because he was trans. Being trans was just one element of who he was. I am just so tired of the only plots available to trans characters being sexual assault or death. 
5. Jason was Jason. He was not perfect. He skipped school. He lied occasionally. He had anger issues. He was a trans teen. He was real. He was not the stereotypical trans teen (though I have seen one other teen like him in media). He was not ideal. He also wan't a harmful representation of trans youth. He wasn't a bad guy. He wasn't problematic. He was just him. He could grow up to be amazing or he could grow up to be terrible, but he was allowed to grow up. 
6. The book is written in a way that I could get my kids (kids in the county jail that I teach sex ed to) to read it. They could identify with being in a group home. They could identify with the anger and the fights. They could identify with the police not being the most helpful when you need them. There is so much here that I could share with them. This would help take the pressure off of me as their, usually, only trans representation outside of a certain afternoon talk show.
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Blood Sport by Tash McAdam is a hi-lo (high interest, low reading level) young adult contemporary/mystery centering on trans teen Jason. Jason is about to age out of foster care, and has no idea what his future will hold. The plan had always been to move in with his older sister Becca once he was out of the system, but her sudden death turns his life upside down. Jason is convinced Becca was murdered, although the police maintain it was a simple drug overdose. 

Jason finds some suspicious articles and photos in Becca’s belongings, and decides to do some investigating himself. Those investigations lead him to a boxing gym, where he finds a place he feels he really belongs - where his fighting skills (developed over a lifetime of defending himself) are respected, and where his masculinity is never questioned. 

As the investigation progresses, Jason is torn between uncovering the truth about his sister and holding on to a place where he can be himself. 

The premise was really promising and I was excited to read it. The writing itself is good, and it doesn’t feel awkward at all the way hi-lo books sometimes do. However, the plot and pacing of the plot were problematic for me. Everything happens very quickly and is wrapped up very quickly and there wasn’t nearly the amount of development there could have been. The mystery was solved way too easily, and without any red herrings or false leads; it was always clear what the solution was, and that made the solving of it not all that interesting. 

I think I honestly would have liked this book a lot more if it had done away with the mystery plot entirely and focused just on Jason’s boxing. There was a lot that could have been expanded on in terms of Jason finding a place for himself in the gym, exploring masculinity through boxing, being trans in sport, etc. Thomas Page McBee wrote an entire memoir about training for a boxing exhibition through those lenses; there’s definitely enough to talk about!

For me, this was just okay; a lot of promise, but it didn’t really live up to it.
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First the positives. I love that this is a YA novella about a trans guy. I have only read trans girl stories for young people so this is a nice change. Similarly but to a lesser extent, I like that the sport of choice is boxing. Boxing is generally not written about in and of itself and there are a lot of great storytelling opportunities available with it, some of which McAdam takes advantage of. I also like the complex feelings on display about Jason's living situation. Group homes are better than nothing but that doesn't mean they always feel like home.

Now for my one concern. I really wish this was fleshed out more into a full length novel. I really wanted to see the bonds between the teens developed out more and I would have even liked Jason's relationship with X developed out a bit to make the twist at the end feel more like a betrayal.
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I was a bit disappointed with this one. I haven't found many books featuring trans-characters so when I find one, I dive right in. This was a short, quick read. The plot, was eh. I expected there to be more of a mystery aspect to this, but it kind of gets forgotten. What I did like was the fact that the author didn't shy away from the main character using a binder, navigating boxing, and coming out to friends.

If there had been more written, I think this could have been an excellent story.
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Finally, 'tis the year for trans guy main characters, and Canada's kicking us off with this intense contemporary thriller about a grieving trans boy named Jason who's out to prove his sister's death was no accident. When a clue leads him to a boxing gym, Jason finds not just a mystery but a pastime he actually enjoys, especially given he's got plenty of experience fighting. But balancing his (actually pretty wonderfully affirming) new friendships with his deadly quest might be more than he can handle. This is a hi-lo title, meaning it's specifically designed for "high-interest, low-reading level" book lovers, and it definitely delivers when it comes to pacing, action, mystery, and representation.
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I was intrigued from page one this book was a joy to read and easy to identify with. I felt it touched on many aspects of the trans and lgbtq community while bringing to light many of the battles we faced Jason became a part of me.

I looked forward to the next page while fearing the book ending because it felt like my life story and I wanted to live it our. 

Seeing the allies and how they stood by Jason made this book a bit of a tear jerker tears of happiness not only a good read but a benefit to the community and eye opener for parents of trans kids everywhere five rainbows cause stars aren’t good enough.
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