The Final Four

( 11 )

Overview

March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams let in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the seminfinals, and it's there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you'll learn how each player went from being a kid who loves to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the ...

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The Final Four

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Overview

March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams let in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the seminfinals, and it's there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you'll learn how each player went from being a kid who loves to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the Superdome victorious? In the end it will come down to who has the most skill, the most drive, and the most heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Matt de la Peña
Volponi looks at March Madness from several angles, and one of the book's strengths is that it never slips into any kind of narrative agenda…Volponi adroitly renders authentic and inspired basketball action, and ultimately the game is what's on display here.
—The New York Times Book Review
VOYA - Deborah Cooper
The Final Four refers not only to the last four teams to make it to the semi-finals of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournamen,t but also to the four star players around whom the book revolves. Malcolm, Michael, Roko, and Crispin all share the same single-minded focus and blind ambition to get drafted as pro basketball stars. Volponi takes us on a journey through every move while simultaneously detailing the events that singled out these players for their life-changing showdown. Volponi, a multiple award-winning author, keeps the tension high from the first to last page. The reader is dropped into the center of the action and is carried along by an edgy, powerful narrative. While the play-by-play may begin to wear on all but the most die-hard sport fans, Volponi lessens the court burnout with his sensitive portrayal of each player's backstory. Flashbacks add depth and interest by revealing the flaws, doubts, and hidden sorrows beneath the players' cocky exteriors. The compelling and authentic dialogue keeps the story pulsing between shots. Interspersed with the jumps, screens, and points of this crucial game is a running news commentary, which makes several thought-provoking jabs at the entire college basketball system. The Final Four depicts young people overcoming their struggles, battling their internal demons, and adapting to the twists and turns of life. Readers should not be put off by the sport-heavy cover photo and title. There is much to commend this novel to teens with wide-ranging interests. The Final Four is definitely a winner. Reviewer: Deborah Cooper
Children's Literature - Robert Perret
The title of this book refers not only to the college basketball championship tournament, but to the four protagonists in this book and the four overtime periods during which the action takes place. The underdog Troy University Trojans are facing off against the basketball powerhouse Michigan State Spartans. Two players on each team are highlighted. Roko is an aspiring journalist who escaped tragic circumstances in his native Croatia. Crispin is an impulsive player who struggles when his personal life played out in the media. Malcolm is a high school phenomenon who is only passing through on the fast track to the NBA, and behaves accordingly. Michael Jordan is just trying to live down his unfortunate name while using his hoop skills to get a college education and improve his life. While the main action is played out in a transcription of the broadcast of the game, interviews, diary entries, and newspaper articles are all used to provide flashbacks that develop the story of each character. In addition to the on-court action, young athletes will also be interested in the critical depiction of the college recruitment process, and some of the harsh realities players face living under NCAA restrictions. This is an easy recommendation for basketball fans and any high school athlete moving on to collegiate sports. The basketball action is highly readable, and the personal stories, while a little dramatic, help carry the reader's interest. Reviewer: Robert Perret
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—The fates of four college basketball players come together as their teams meet in a semifinal game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Malcolm McBride and Michael Jordan (who bears the burden of being named after the game's greatest player) are members of the vaunted Michigan State Spartans while Roko Bacic and Crispin Rice play for the underdog Troy University Trojans. Their stories are told by means of flashbacks, journal entries, newspaper accounts, and TV interviews weaving in and out of the play-by-play. Brash, outspoken Malcolm, who grew up in a crime-ridden Detroit housing project and whose sister was killed in a drive-by shooting, makes no secret of his desire to secure a lucrative pro contract after one year of college basketball. For Roko, basketball is his ticket to a better life after his escape from war-torn Croatia. Michael's self-confidence has suffered from his inability to live up to his famous name, and Crispin is having second thoughts about a hasty (and public) proposal to a possibly faithless girlfriend. Malcolm, Michael, and Roko come across as being especially complex, multifaceted, driven individuals. Malcolm is in many ways the least likable but most compelling of the protagonists. He boldly speaks truth to power in challenging a college athletic system that routinely exploits student athletes while raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from their unpaid labors. With exciting game action and a candid exploration of the hypocrisy inherent so-called amateur sports, this gritty, realistic, and riveting novel deserves the wide audience it will no doubt attract.—Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT
Kirkus Reviews
Volponi's latest combines in-the-moment action, basketball history and the points of view of four college ballplayers with very different lives. The frame story here is a white-knuckle NCAA championship game between Michigan State's Spartans and the underdog Trojans from Troy University. Television interviews, news articles, radio transcripts and segments narrated from individual players' perspectives lay out the minute-by-minute action of the game and the context and personal histories surrounding it. Readers meet talented but arrogant Malcolm McBride, who plans to leave Michigan State for the NBA immediately after his freshman year, second-tier player Michael Jordan (MJ), whom Malcolm berates for not living up to his namesake's prowess, Crispin Rice, who became a viral video sensation when he proposed impulsively to his cheerleader girlfriend after a dramatic play on the court, and Roko Bacic, who lost a journalist uncle to an attack by Zagreb mobsters. No story or character is simple: Malcolm, for instance, is both sympathetic and perilously self-centered, and his argument that the NCAA profits unfairly from student athletics will provoke debate among readers. The pace of the game lulls a bit in the middle but picks up again in the tense and unpredictable finale. Compelling characters and solid sports action. (Fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142423851
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 1/10/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 99,125
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Volponi is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Black & White. From 1992 to 1998, he taught adolescents on Rikers Island in New York City to read and write. Mr. Volponi worked at a day treatment center like Daytop teaching students and helping them prepare for the GED. Mr. Volponi lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2012

    Simply, Paul Volponi's best novel. I was moved by the characters

    Simply, Paul Volponi's best novel. I was moved by the characters, atmosphere, and the action. Imagine a player named Michael Jordon who warms the bench, and he's only one of four standout characters. I'm not surprised this book was awarded three starred reviews--SLJ, Booklist, and BCCB. I think it's one of the best books of the year.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    ¿Swish¿, the crowd is roaring at this Trojan War in the Final


    “Swish”, the crowd is roaring at this Trojan War in the Final Four with heavily favored Michigan St. Spartans and the Trojans of Troy, the Cinderella story. This is the Trojans second time in the tournament, and last time they were one-and done. The Trojans are led by their center, Crispin Rice, and their point guard, Roko Bacic,” Red Bull”. The Trojans are led by heir star freshman, Malcolm McBride,” One-and-Done”. This is an epic thriller to the end.
    Adam W.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    Great read

    Im a basketball fanatic and i stood up for days reading it from start to finish! I hope my journey it like that bit better great read;)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2014

        (Warning: Spoilers ahead) As I read this book, it became mor

        (Warning: Spoilers ahead) As I read this book, it became more compelling to me.  
    I absolutely love this book. Not just because of the high-intensity basketball game that is being played,
    but because of the different types of characters and their background.
    This is definitely a must read for teens who enjoy sports and drama amongst people.
    The Final Four by Paul Volponi, is a semifinal game of the of the NCAA tournament called March Madness.
    The four teams that are in the semifinals are North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State, and Troy.
    This game focuses on the match between the Michigan State Spartans and the Cinderella team of the tournament,
    Troy Trojans. The main protagonist of the book is Michigan State's point guard, Malcom McBride, who after the
    tournament ends, will be entering the NBA draft after one year of college. The Final Four focuses on four main
    players: Malcom McBride, Roko Bacic, Crispin Rice, and Michael Jordan. No, not Space Jam Michael Jordan, the
    Michigan State benchwarmer Michael Jordan. Paul Volponi doesn't just focus on the players in the game, but he
    also focuses on the backgrounds of the four players. First there is Malcom McBride, a basketball player who can't
    shut his mouth and has witnessed the death of his sister in a drive by shooting. Next there is Roko Bacic, a man
    who has come to the United States from Croatia after the mafia killed his Uncle Drâzen. Crispin Rice is a man who
    a couple weeks earlier made a buzzer beater shot to win the game for his team, Troy Trojans. After he makes the
    shot, he proposes to his girlfriend, Hope. He gets distracted by the engagement and has been in a shooting slump
    as of late. He hopes this is his comeback game. Michael Jordan, named after the greatest basketball player of all
    time, is not living up to the hype of his name. After one of his teammates foul out, he gets his chance to shine.
    The game goes into quadruple overtime, but the Michigan State Spartans come out on top and play
    North Carolina for the NCAA championship, (but I'm not going to tell you who wins). The best things about the
    book, in my opinion, are the inside look at the NCAA and what it really does to a collegiate athlete. Also great are
    the different points of view that give the book some life, and the transformation of the characters from beginning
    to end. For its action, suspense, and characters, this is one of the best books I've ever read. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    Great book!

    I am a 6 grader and i am 12. This is honestly the best book i have ever read in my life! Each chapter having new exitments, any body my age or even age 60 would love this book! Great read! I would say why i like it and what its about, but i want everyone to find out themselves by purchesing this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    This book is amazing

    This is one of the best books u can ever read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Buyer Beware!

    I purchased this Nook book but it was blank. I called 1-800-THE-BOOK and have been given a refund...but I still don't have the book. The publisher has to fix this type of problem, not Nook support. I'd like to know when/if this ever gets fixed because I really would like to purchase this book!

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Ok

    This book has a spectacular structure and pace. The only problem I have with it is that the editor could have made some better choices when it came to language. I would reccomend this book for sportslovers 11 and up. Let your parent know before you purchase this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    Cool

    Best book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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