Nowhere to Go By S. Ludman, 244 pgs.

I can’t review this book without taking into account the skinhead stereotype: hyper-masculine, violent men beholden to leaders; vague ideology; a perverted sense of honor; and the ability to justify anything based on all of the former, but prone to beating your ass. That said, I’ve known skinheads, partied with skinheads, been best friends with skinheads, and damn well know the value of having them on your side. Still, I can’t think of one who didn’t have at least two of the above faults. Skinheads, though, don’t come out of a vacuum. There’s a reason why they chose their subculture, why they glorify violence, why they hang on to backward ideas of what it is to be a man and, like everyone else, are the clay that society molded them into. There’s room for nuance and complexity in telling their stories.

Unfortunately, you won’t get that in Nowhere to Go. It starts off decent enough. Matt lives with a foster mother who’s a coke dealer and addict. After being beaten to a pulp by her latest dirtbag boyfriend, Matt steals all her cash and coke and runs away to Los Angeles to be a punk. We get a good idea of why Matt’s angry, why he can kick ass and take a punch. We understand the chip on his shoulder. But that’s all we get.

As soon as he gets to L.A. he gets jumped by a skinhead gang. He beats their asses. They recruit him into their gang. He meets the hot punk girl with her dyed hair and ceaselessly referenced nipples and fights the rival skinhead gang for her honor. She breaks his heart. He fights anybody and everybody to forget the pain. And on. And on.

If that’s what you want, you’ll get it here along with countless plodding pages telling of Matt’s broken heart, but the author lacks the ability to show it. Immersive literature would show—through dialogue, symbolism, understated actions and body language—deep meaning, perhaps even allowing you to sympathize. Unfortunately, any potential for this is tossed away for cornball, Hollywood-style dialogue, countless brawls, hetero-rutting, and boob adjectives. If there’s something to be said for the work, the pleasure and drive in making it is palpable. The author seems excited to tell an action-filled story without the pretenses of literature, but it takes more than that to grab me. –Craven Rock (CCM Publishing Group, Crowd Control Media, 8504 Firestone Blvd. #391, Downey, CA 90241, crowdcontrolmedia.net)