Down the House is a non-fiction novel that brings you into the underground world of gambling. It is a page-turner that will keep your mind racing, and on edge. B. D. H is a relatively easy read, but has a few challenging parts consisting of the math that is behind it all. The most amazing part about this novel is that Ben Mezrich did not make it up, rather that he crafted this thrilling book based on a true story. This book is the type of read one would recommend to a friend, however may not be up to the AP curriculum standards.
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On one hand the book is smart, funny, and exciting. While on the other hand it is simple and at times feels overwritten, as if Mezrich tried too hard. For example, there are moments where the action becomes so enticing and Mezrich manages to ruin it by trying to convince the reader how exciting all of this really is. Specifically, in describing one particular hand, Mezrich writes, “Kevin drew a nine for a solid nineteen. Martinez drew another queen, a strong twenty.
The dealer had a six showing. Heaven on felt. (pg. 2)” The last portion of that description is a bit cliche and tacky, and it is made clear that Mezrich was trying too hard. Going back to an earlier point, had Mezrich trusted the thrill of the action more and left off the unnecessary insight at the end of the sentence, he would have been better off. The most exhilarating parts of Mezrich’s book describe the paranoia that sweeps through the players once they discover that the Vegas security agency is on to them. This is where Mezrich is able to shine, through the use of intense description and a tantalizing depiction of the events that follow.
For example, “The team was in disarray, their future as a profitable venture utterly uncertain. (pg. 189)” That sentence alone sets the tone for the next five chapters, where the MIT students are in a scramble to save the teams as well as their
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own futures. Once you can get over the fact that this book is not a “masterpiece” by any means, it becomes a story that most students can relate to. Given the setting, characters and plot the reader may very well be able to connect past experiences to what they are reading.
The setting is pretty simple, as he events all take place either at MIT, in a casino, or in one of many Las Vegas hotels. The setting may not be where most people can relate, however it is about a student facing hardships, a common story for high school students. Moreover, it is the characters and plot where the reader truly relates to the material. The two characters of Fisher and Martinez are the popular males who are used to reel in Kevin (main character). Most people can remember a time where they were persuaded to do something they felt was wrong, because they wanted to fit in with a certain group of people.
This is a prime example of peer pressure, which gets the best of our protagonist Kevin. Micky Rosa is the leader of the “team” and a teacher at MIT. As in the case with most students, regardless of age, there is always that single teacher that creates a strong relationship or bond with certain students. In this case, Kevin trusts in his mathematics teacher to control his life and destiny, a decision he ultimately regrets. Overall, what this novel lacks in literary merit, it makes up for with an alluring plot.
It is a book that is hard to put down, and pushes the reader’s mind to its limit. The author’s unique style of flipping back and forth between past and present day adds to the curiosity of the reader, but sometimes makes it hard to follow. There is no deep meaning to this story, nor is it symbolic in any way. Lastly, as much of an enjoyable read as it was, it does not seem fit for the AP English Literature curriculum. Few lessons are learned, and the only knowledge gained is an introduction on counting cards.