We gave it a B-
If you’re planning to get into the ring with the heavyweights of boxing lit (A.J. Liebling’s The Sweet Science, Leonard Gardner’s Fat City), you need a knockout hook. Katie Kitamura, in her debut novel, has one: the relatively unchronicled (at least in stuffy fiction circles) world of mixed-martial-arts fighting. Aside from that fresh setting, though, there isn’t much new here. A young brawler and his gruff cornerman (think Burgess Meredith) train and talk about an upcoming bout against the champ. Skid-row fatalism and a heap of clichés take over from there as teacher and pupil sense the match won’t go well. At The Longshot‘s final bell, it’s nothing you haven’t read before. B?