We ordered a few basketball novels from the library, and though most of them were pretty bland versions of The Basketball Diaries, this book wasn't; this book is strange, and it ended up being the first novel we read to Langston. The story centers around this boy that's pretty average in a world of wealthy, above average people, and he and his friends go to a small private school.
Everyone at the school is very much the same, but a strange foreign man shows up to be the chemistry teacher, and no one knows where he came from, and he has no physical description, no description at all except that he says, "not so?" at the end of every sentence and as the new basketball coach, he makes the players practice transcendental meditation and rub a statue's tummy for luck.
The problem is the statue. These average boys in an above average world have no idea about anything outside of that world, and they begin to form this strange, cult like fascination with the deity, which the parents and school principal and some pinheaded boy named Dennis, all fear,
and the world, literally, comes tumbling down. Like I said, the book is strange, and the narrator falls into a terribly Salingeresque perspective, and he could easily become a Holden Caufield; I mean, The Revenge of Ho-Tai truly ends where The Catcher and the Rye begins: the stories could be days off from one another in the same life.
As a kids book, it was strikingly original and dark, dark like most parents don't want to believe their kids know, or come to know, in the world around them. And along with that darkness is the darkness of being human; the story is called a revenge for a reason, and no one is let loose. The major point that the narrator learns is that revenge never stops where you want it to.
Compared to the great pieces of children's literature, which may not be a fair comparison, I would give it a B-.