Book Review: Neil Rooke’s “Keyboard Warrior”

Keyboard-Warrior The following is a review of MMA journalist Neil Rooke’s novella “Keyboard Warrior.” Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilRooke01 and purchase the eBook of “Keyboard Warrior” at Keyboard warrior. Someone who talks smack on the internet behind a keyboard, thinking there are no repercussions. We in the mixed martial arts community all know the term, but it took an Australian MMA journalist to finally write a book about it. Okay, well I shouldn’t say book, because Neil Rooke, the author of “Keyboard Warrior,” doesn’t call his collection of words a book, he calls it a novella, and that’s probably a fair description considering it’s only about 100 pages long. But in those 100 pages he brings to life the character of Dave “Vicious” Cross and for as long as the story lasts, it leaves the reader enthralled and wanting more – which is probably what Rooke’s intention was, considering “Keyboard Warrior” is the first part in a three-part series, the later two parts of which are yet to be released. The story centers on Cross, who is a mixed martial artist competing in the welterweight division. Although Cross tries his best to make it big in the sport, for whatever reason he just can’t break through to the big time, and the keyboard warriors who make fun of his fight footage on the internet drive him over the edge. But despite being trashed on the forums, Cross continues to follow his passion, even though it seems like it’s a mistake. Finding it difficult to even get fights, Cross scours the internet message boards looking for a potential matchup and finally gets what he asked for – or does he? When Cross answers an internet message board ad about a local Florida promotion looking for an amateur fighter, he takes it right away, even though he knows absolutely nothing about the organization. And it proves to be one of the biggest mistakes on his life, as instead of getting a fight he gets involved in a huge dilemma that ultimately costs him his relationship with his girlfriend, his coach, and most importantly, his relationship with himself. Throughout the book, Rooke calls upon common themes prevalent in the mixed martial arts community – the struggle to succeed as a fighter, especially financially, and the hardship it can be on one’s personal life; the culture of trolling and “keyboard warriors” all too common to anyone who follows MMA on the internet; the changing of the guard in martial arts, from the old-fashioned approach instructors used to take to an updated one that they do now; and of course, the sport’s addiction to social media and the toll it can takes on the athletes involved. This is a very fun read and well worth the two or so hours it takes to read. It’s not the longest or deepest story in the world, and as it’s Rooke’s first foray into long-form writing I’m sure that there’s things he will look to improve upon in his next novella, but for the 100 or so pages the story lasts, it’s a very interesting look into the world of MMA from a fictional perspective, and a funny one at that (there are a lot of inside jokes that MMA fans will get, and in a way it’s a bit of a black comedy). I recommend the novella to any MMA fan who enjoys reading, and I’m looking forward to parts two and three.

Written by Adam Martin.

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