Reviews for The Knockout, by Sajni Patel

sweet_dee_reads's review against another edition

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adventurous hopeful inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

The Knockout by @sajnipatelbooks is a YA book about badass Muy Thai fighter Kareena Thakkar, a seventeen year old Indian girl who is making a name for herself in the fighting world. Kareena has felt alienated from her Indian culture because she’s a fighter, but she hasn’t let that stop her! She now has the chance to go to the US Muy Thai Open but it’s very expensive. Her mom is the only one who works since her dad is very sick. How will Kareena make her dreams come true?

If you love reading YA books, then stop what you’re doing and grab this one! It was so great! Sajni Patel has written one amazing badass character in Kareena! Kareena can take down pretty much any opponent and is so disciplined with her training, but just like every other teenage girl, she has her insecurities. It was so awesome reading this one and seeing the amazing support system that surrounds Kareena when she thinks she is alone. The Knockout was such an empowering read that will make you feel good when you read it. This one gets 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫 and I definitely recommend if you like YA!

vighneshreadsandtalks's review

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4.0

4.5 stars.

This was good. Really good. The premise of the book was so intriguing and it definitely ticked all the boxes for me.

The main character was so complex and she struggled a lot but her character arc is one of the best I have read so far.

The plot went in a direction I did not expect it to take but I definitely loved it.

The love interest in this novel was developed so well and I liked how the author delved into his situation and I really got to read both experiences of being an Indian American and I think that really helped to shape the story.

The representation was done really well in my opinion but I didn't really like a line in the story where the main character called herself exotic even though I think it was important to help show her growth throughout the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading more by this author.

shivanichy's review

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3.0

*3.5

E-Arc provided by Netgalley for my honest opinion.

Oh my gosh, I have so many thoughts about this book! First off, I just want to say, I love and appreciate Indian-American representation in young adult novels. Growing up I didn’t get a lot of that so it makes me so happy to be able to read about characters who come from similar backgrounds as myself. Now, let me start with all the the things I loved about this book. I loved having a kickass, strong, independent, and goal-driven character. I found a lot of characteristics in Kareena that I see in myself. My favorite part of this book was seeing the struggles that Indian-Americans go through when it comes to identity. It’s difficult at time to be Indian, but raised in America. Sometimes you don’t feel like you belong in either. People label you as “Not Indian Enough” or “Too Westernized.” The manner in which this book addressed that issue really hit close to home. I could understand why she kept Muay Thai a secret from so many people. I really appreciated that Kareena grew as a character and learned to accept her culture even though many people or the “community” might not accept her. Another aspect I thoroughly appreciated was the amount of girl-love and support seen and given from the side female characters. I really appreciated Lily and her talks she gave to Kareena in which she always hyped Kareena up and supported her dreams. She was a great best friend and always said the honest, and right things to push Kareena’s insecurities away. Along with this, the amount of support and pure love that her parents gave to her and she reciprocated also hit close to home. My parents have always supported me and my dreams even in poor financial circumstance. They never made it feel like I couldn’t achieve or pursue something I wanted. I see a lot of strict Indian parent tropes (which is also feasible, my family can be strict as well/I’ve met many strict aunties/uncles) which good, but I’m glad to have seen this fresh perspective. There was a lot to love about this, and I’m really glad I got the chance to read it. When it comes to Amit and the relationship that forms between him and Kareena, I appreciated it at times, and not so much at other times. I did enjoy Amit’s character for the most part. He was quirky and a nice guy, although there were times that I questioned his actions. It’s difficult to be held to a high standard by one’s parents, especially when it’s expected of you. I think this was also a good issue to address and done well.
This leads me into some of the quirks of this book that I just didn’t love too much. When I first began this book, about 15-20 percent of the way in I was finding it slightly boring and the setting of high school seemed a little too naive for me. Kareena’s character was a lot to handle and it took me a while for her to grow on me. One thing in particular that seemed a bit strange was hot she used to fall asleep in class and how no one noticed that..I feel like teachers would notice if a student fell asleep? Yes, she did have a lot on her plate as well which made sense under her circumstances, but occasionally that didn’t add up either. There are only so many hours in the day, but somehow she managed to go jogging, train, cook, clean, and do well in all of her classes? I’m not saying it’s impossible and I’m sure there are students who do these things, but it just didn’t seem very realistic to me personally. Another thing that was difficult for me to wrap my head around in the beginning was how close-minded Kareena was to everyone in the Desi-community. I understand that with her family’s background and her fear of judgement she never felt welcome, but it didn’t make her a better person for judging everyone in the community on what she assumes they might say about her and her passion for a “boy’s/physical” sport. There was this particular point in which she was talking to Amit and they were comparing their problems. Like? Yes her life is extremely difficult and it might not seem like anyone else’s could be worse, but she doesn’t have the right to just dismiss other peoples’ problems just because they’re not as big as hers. There’s this quote that goes, it doesn’t matter if someone’s drowning in 10 feet water or 5 feet water, they’re both still drowning. No one should feel less than just because they feel like their problems are relevant and make them feel a certain way too. Finally, without spoiling anything, I didn’t appreciate how certain medical issues were handled towards the end. When it comes to information, HIPPA is extremely important and they don’t give out that information very easily to people, especially kids in high school. Decisions in regard to finances and medicine is a really tricky subject and being as I want to be a doctor and have been exposed to the health care field, this portion of the book seemed a little out there. I’m not saying that decisions like this don’t have to be made because that’s how donors are decided (put on a list), but the process in which a board looks through applications and recipients is something left restricted for health care workers to discuss. Basically there were just parts here and there that just made me question the story and why it was written a certain way.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to you all! I love supporting Own Voices authors because it broadens my reading horizons. I cannot wait to hear all of your thoughts on it come January!
Writing: 6/10
Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall: 37/50
Cover: 9/10

cakt1991's review

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4.0

3.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I enjoyed Sajni Patel’s adult romance debut last year, so I was curious to read more from her. And I was drawn to The Knockout due to liking the idea of a heroine who did martial arts, as I had not read many books that featured that, at least not contemporary ones.

This book ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for me. I did like the martial arts aspect, with the heroine being into Muay Thai and a big competition being a big part of the story. I didn’t know anything about this particular type of martial arts, so it was interesting to learn about it and that atmosphere.

Kareena is also a pretty interesting character. I was particularly drawn to how she felt she had to hide this vital part of herself due to the judginess of her peers, and I was happy that ultimately it turned out she was accepted for doing what she loved.

The blurb also suggested cultural conflict as a major theme, and I liked how well that was conveyed. Kate a is largely disconnected from the conservative traditions upheld by her parents, but it never felt like either side was right or wrong. Her parents obviously try their best to support her dreams, even as they are faced with issues of their own, like her father’s health issues. That prompts Kareena’s guilt and leads her to shoulder some of the burden. It was nice that while cultural divide was a key theme, the family wasn’t divided over it, as has been the case in some similar books.

I found Amit really lacking as a love interest. It felt like he didn’t have a ton of substance, and Kareena doesn’t even trust him, so it creates constant drama.

This is a fun book that also tackles some pretty important issues, and I enjoyed it in spite of its minor flaws. If you’re looking for a unique diverse YA, I think you’ll like this one.

now_booking's review

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emotional funny hopeful inspiring reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

This was a very cute own-voices YA novel with strong romance themes even though it’s not an out and out romance. The premise is that Kareena is an Indian-American highschooler and somewhat of a prodigy Muay Thai fighter. Unfortunately, in her community this is perceived to be not quite the thing for a proper Indian girl as it’s not a feminine endeavor and she’s feels ostracized for her athletic pursuit. Add to this, she has some deep problems at home, making her senior year especially hard especially as it relates with coming to terms with her identity.

I think what’s good about this book is that it tells a universal story about feeling alienated, whether that is feeling alienated from your culture, from your friends, from your people, from your family’s expectations of you, I think all of us have at one time felt like we were on the outside. This book is very strong in communicating that message and in portraying the self-doubt and fear and bitterness that can come from constantly feeling the need to protect yourself from the hurt of being an outsider. I love how the author played with the theme of prejudging others before the judge you and having blind spots in our perspectives of the world and how it sees us. I think obviously Indian-Americans or people who identify as Desi would relate most to this book especially if they feel some distance from their ancestral culture. That said I think anyone who’s a recent descendant of immigrants or even living in their own country but far removed from their ancestral traditions, would also be able to relate strongly to this book.

This could have been a 5-star read for me but I must admit that at times Kareena’s “not-like-other-Indian-girls”-ing got a little much for me personally. We get it, you’re a fighter, you don’t wear traditional clothes and you’re not religious- you’re not like other Indian-American girls🙄. That said, as annoying as that got, it felt very true to how people are in high school on the cusp of college, and that obsession with finding your unique identity and understanding yourself in the world that can come across a little “special little unicorn flower.” It is a right of passage so I give it to Kareena. Some of the drama in this book was also VERY high school appropriate and I think if I had read this as a young adult, I would have had a lot more patience with the juvenile level of drama. What I liked though, was that Kareena’s “high school” drama with her ex-friends Ranya and Saanvi, was nicely contrasted with some of the life-deep drama she was facing at home with her father’s health, her Muay Thai aspirations, and her family’s future. The contrast of those different levels of drama felt very authentic and true for a character coming of age in these circumstances, and having to balance the last bits of childishness with becoming an adult.

My favourite parts of this were the Muay Thai plot, the theme around the importance of community and girl-led support, and the love story between Kareena and Amit. You could definitely tell that the author was very experienced in Muay Thai as she brought the training and preparation and mindset and  the fights to the page in a way that not only got you understanding the sport but also understanding why Kareena was so passionate about it. Yes there was A LOT of repetition of Kareena’s motivation in the sport, the prospect of World Championships, the fact that Muay Thai would potentially be becoming an Olympic sport, but I think it served to continue center the fact that at it’s heart, this was a novel about a girl in a sport disapproved of by her culture who remains dedicated to that sport and the empowerment it brings her. I loved the romantic elements with Amit because Kareena never lost focus on her goals because of her feelings for him. She didn’t need romantic love to soften her or heal something in her or to “find balance.” Her goals remained her goals and her dedication to her sport was untouchable. And Amit recognized that and supported that and understood that her goals were number 1. The coding bits seemed a little improbable to me but what do I know, maybe it makes sense in real life. I also loved the idea of the sisterhood of female athletes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was fun, but also really thoughtful and inspiring and uplifting. Highly recommend to lovers of YA fiction or anyone interested in an own voices book about a young Indian-American Muay Thai fighter.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Flux Books in exchange for an honest review.

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bookbabe_92's review against another edition

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lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.0

b00ksandqu0tes's review

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adventurous emotional funny inspiring lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

From beginning to end, I LOVED The Knockout and the journey that it takes you on! 

An #ownvoices novel that touches on pride in yourself and fitting in with your culture, The Knockout is about Kareena Thakkar whose choice in sports - Muay Thai - is far from being ladylike and acceptable to her Indian community. Not only does she struggle with feeling like she doesn't fit in, but Kareena is also trying to juggle her father's illness, losing some friendships, and a lack of funding for the US Muay Thai Open that she has been invited to compete in. Add on discovering the possibility of feelings for Amit Patel, her brilliant, perfect Indian classmate, and all the drama that goes with that, and you've got a packed premise for a novel. 

What I appreciated so much about this book was the pacing and tone. As a former competitor, when you are getting ready for an important competition your whole life seems to fly by. Everything is fast, everything is important, and your adrenal and energy skyrocket. It means that your responses to relationships and school and everything else is also heightened, because this preparation of your body and mind impacts everything else you are doing. This book felt like that. Through the pacing and the crazy energy and the go=go-go tone, I felt like I was back getting into competition mode with Kareena. It made the pitfalls and traps in her life feel that much more emotional and exhausting, and the wins were thrilling. 

This is definitely a book I'd put in my 8th grade classroom - it's clean and fun and the conversation around relationships - both romantic and friendly - are important ones to have, and they are discussed well in the novel. 

obscurepages's review

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emotional funny inspiring reflective
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

 Wow, wow, wow. I enjoyed this one so much!

This was funny and inspiring, and it tackled several social issues and stereotypes. It tackled the stigma/prejudice towards female athletes in rougher sports, being shunned because of not conforming into the more traditional ways of a community (in this case, the Indian/Indian-American community), girls not looking "feminine" enough or girls having big muscles and abs. It was all so wonderful, so kudos to the author for this!

Also, I have to say, I rarely ship cishet characters/couples but Kareena and Amit were so cute! Loved the family and friendship themes in the book, of course. I also adored Kareena as a main character, she was fierce and passionate, but sometimes she can come off as too proud and too stubborn.

Lastly, I'm sure those who loved the k-drama Weighlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo will enjoy this as well! Exact rating: 4.5 stars

E-arc received via Edelweiss. Thank you Flux Books! (This, however, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)

More detailed review on my blog soon!

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roseizstarandbooks's review

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challenging slow-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

This was to slow pasted for me and some of the sentences was too long making it harder to read. I loved the idea of this book but the execution not so much.

piscespaperbacks's review

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adventurous emotional funny tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.0

I found the last 25% really great, and I think someone who reads and enjoys YA contemporaries more than me would love this book overall. Personally, I felt like the plot moved slowly in the first half for having so much going on, and I found the main character frustrating in how she kind of creates a lot of her own problems.

Despite that, the writing was upbeat and fun, the muay thai was really cool, and I really loved all of the cultural aspects the author brought in about the main characters experience being Indian.