As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, many people will try to capitalize on it from various angles and other businesses. There have been several movies made about the sport, some good, most bad and now it seems like it is the time for fictional stories to be published. While I am sure there were others before it, Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown was the first truly mixed martial arts fiction book I have read.
The stage is set right away, Aaron “Woodshed” Wallace is a fighter who has been fighting his way on the local scene for some time now. He of course has a not so clean past, but what star these days doesn’t?
The basic premise is that he is offered a short notice fight (two days) for the largest mma promotion in the country; Warrior Inc against one of the promotion’s poster fighters. Of course he accepts the fight, and that’s when all hell starts to break.
It’s nearly impossible to detail the plot twists of who is with who without giving away everything, but I will try my best. After the weigh-ins Woodshed wants to kill some time and takes one of his training partner’s sister Marcela out on the town. They run into Larry, an old friend of Wallace’s back from when he was doing some not so legal running and of course he needs help. Wallace agrees and the action begins.
The trio head to a bookie so Larry can settle up his debt with the bookie, only Larry doesn’t have all the funds. Larry tries to explain that there’s a sure thing in Wallace on the next night’s card, and the bookie threatens Larry’s life and tells Wallace he needs to win in order to keep Larry alive. Then of course he sees an opportunity to double his odds and wants to take Marcela with.
Wallace opposes, breaks some bones, and the three leave the bookie’s place. Moments later, Larry is kidnapped but Marcela and Wallace are left alone. The two head back to the hotel where Marcela is staying, Wallace drops her off, then heads to the gym for his night’s rest before the big fight.
In the morning he realizes Marcela isn’t in the gym and that she has been kidnapped. There’s of course only about eight hours give or take for Wallace to find Marcela and make it to his fight. From here, the plot twists come and go quickly, some shocking, others, not so much.
While the premise of the book seems far-fetched, it touches on part of the strength of what makes the sport of mixed martial arts great; teamwork. Wallace knows he wouldn’t be where he was without the help of his team, and as a team they work to figure out what exactly is going on and where Marcela is. Wallace at one point is more disappointed by letting his coach and teammates down, then anything else and it is the central theme.
As stated, the story arch unfolds in the span of a forty-eight hour period, which makes for little stalling in the action. This is both a good thing, and a bad thing. The bad is that the characters all seem under developed. There’s the kinship and loyalty that each of the teammates have, but the hows and whys of coming together, aren’t there. On the flip side, there’s no long drawn out self reflection by any of the characters and the story keeps moving forward.
Overall the book is a great read for fans of thrillers and fans of the sport of mixed martial arts. It does a great job of blending the two realities into one. Suckerpunch is just the first part in a multi-book story, with the second, Hook and Shoot due out in November of 2012.
For those looking for that last quick blurb to try and convince them to read the book, here it is:
In the span of just forty-eight hours, Wallace fights in two sanctioned mma fights, the later for the largest organization in the US, dealing with the local gangs, helps a friend out of a debt, all while trying to save a girl. Suckerpunch is a non-stop thrill ride that never skips a beat and leaves the readers wanting to see more of Wallace.