Knockdown by Brenda Beem

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SKU 978-1-77130-870-0

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A sail boat can tip over and come back up again. Sailors call this a knockdown.  

In eighteen hours a mega tsunami will hit the Pacific Coast. It will leave in its wake massive destruction and the threat of an ice age.  

Sixteen-year-old Toni, her brothers, and their friends race the clock as they sail Toni’s family boat far out to sea. They must get beyond where the wave crests, or the boat will be crushed.  

Without their parents to guide them, the reluctant crew improvises. Romances bloom and tempers flare. There is no privacy. Cell phones won’t work. The engine breaks down. They are running out of time.  

Even if they survive the wave, there is nowhere in this ravaged world to go. When disaster strikes, it is up to Toni to find the strength to lead the crew when her brothers cannot.

14+ for violence and adult situations



Then Whistler hit bottom.


There were terrible wood splintering sounds as she strained to hold together. Bottles and dishes exploded. The table landed with a loud thump on the floor.


Then silence, except for the static from the radio. Nick reached over and flipped it off.


I lay back on the cabin floor and looked up. Water covered the skylight above me. Air bubbles floated toward the surface. I gasped. We were under the water. Whistler had gone down. It was over.


We were going to die.


I wept.


All our work.


All for nothing.


The boat shuddered and shook. I glanced around at the walls and hatches, crying in despair, waiting for water to spew in. Even if she held together, we couldn’t swim to the surface. Not in the icy water. And we’d run out of air if we stayed below.


I worked my foot free and crawled to the galley, and Cole. He moaned as I rolled him over to check his breathing. He was alive, but a large welt was forming on his forehead. I cradled him in my arms and waited to die.


The boat rocked.


“Look!” Takumi pointed at the skylight.


I shook my head.


“Come on, Toni. You have to see this.”


“What?” Nick asked. Jervis disappeared into Angelina and Makala’s room. I heard Angelina tell him they were okay as Makala sobbed.


I hugged Cole tighter. Didn’t they realize we were all going to die? I closed my eyes and let the tears fall. We were under the ocean. Who knew how far down we’d gone. It was hopeless.


Dylan emerged from the bedroom. He ran to Cole and me. “What happened?” he asked.


Takumi explained how Cole hit his head.


“I’ll get Zoë.” Dylan raced back to the bow.


Soon a disheveled Zoë emerged, supported by Dylan.


Takumi knelt beside me. “Toni, please. Come look.”


“Go with Takumi. I need to check Cole’s head,” Zoë ordered.


“Go away!” I cried. It was too late. Why wouldn’t they leave Cole and me alone?


“Toni, get out of the way.” Dylan pulled me away from Cole.


I struggled against him. “We’re going to die. Don’t you see?”


“I see my brother hurt and Zoë can help him. Go with Takumi.”


I shook my head.


Takumi wrapped his arm around me and helped me stand. I gave up and leaned into him, balancing on one leg, grimacing when I put pressure on my ankle. I took a deep breath and wondered how many I had left.


We carefully crossed the main salon until we stood under the skylight. Nick was beside us. I glanced back at Cole and hung my head.


“Look up,” Takumi said.


“I can’t,” I whispered.


He lifted my chin. “Toni, it will be all right. Trust me.”


I studied his face.


He smiled. “Trust me,” he said again.


I raised my head. It was dark, but droplets of water bounced off the glass. I squinted. That was odd. Water doesn’t bounce when you’re under it. I wiped my eyes. Was I looking at strange air bubbles?


The boat bobbed. The droplets ran in rivers off the glass.


I glanced at Takumi.


“That’s what I was trying to show you.”


Small sparkling dots appeared, blurred in the tiny puddles. The boat rocked again. A bright orb of light shone down from above. We were looking at the stars and the moon. We’d floated to the surface.



Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings)
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A classic page turner
Written by smh on 24th Apr 2018

A wild ride of a story. A classic page turner that explores the aftermath of a devastating tsunami and a group of teens who struggle to survive on the family's sailboat alone. Ending is one page away from the sequel, which I found myself most eager to read.

With Love for Books
Written by Anniek on 26th Jan 2016

16-year old Toni, her two brothers and a couple of friends are in for the fight of a lifetime. When the news spreads out that a Tsunami, with a size no one has ever seen before, will hit the Pacific Coast Toni and her brothers rush to their sail boat. They only have 18 hours to go and find safety until this devastating force of nature will hit land. Before they sail off they gather as much supplies, food and water as they can get. This is not an easy task, because other people with the same ideas are not willing to share. After it becomes clear that Toni's parents will not be on time to reach the boat the teenagers make the difficult choice to face this terror alone. They must hurry and get beyond the worst of the Tsunami to survive. A sailboat can tip over and come back up again. This is called a knockdown. The teenagers are hoping that if they can secure the boat well enough and get out on sea far enough they will survive. Toni's parents have left them with the directions to an Island. They are planning to go there and to be reunited with their loved ones. This story had my heart on lockdown ever since the first lines. The fact that a Tsunami can be a real life threat made it so believable. Toni and her brothers know what to do on a sailboat. Their parents taught them well. It broke my heart when they sailed off into the unknown to face this all on their own. Brenda Beem made all of the characters strong with their own strengths each. I loved reading about them and how they grew during their journey. Even with all the grief, sadness and the possibility of dying they found happiness in little things. They never gave up and kept on fighting to reach their goal. The fact that the author chose such a believable fear made this story so real for me. I absolutely loved Knockdown and didn't want to put it down. I can't wait to be reading the sequel, Beached, to find out what happens next.

What Would You Do?
Written by Novalamp on 21st Oct 2014

I decided to read Knockdown after hearing the author, Brenda Beem, speak about how she became an author and what the story was about. I was so eager to read her book I bought it for my Kindle that night. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The book is written in the first person by Toni, a 16 year old girl, who suddenly finds herself facing life and death decisions. The decisions she and her group (her older twin brothers and other teen-agers) make effect not only them but also strangers they encounter as they try to sail to safety. I read the book in two days - I would've read it in one sitting if I'd had the time! Like all good books, I was sad to reach the end. I want to know what's happening to Toni and her group of friends! Happily the author is writing a sequel. I also enjoyed reading the Hunger Games and watching The Walking Dead. The characters are believable and likeable. Some are willing to risk their lives for others - some aren't. Some rescues work, some don't. In this world without working cell phones and with mass destruction everyone is operating without a safety net. I would recommend it for anyone 12 and over who is interested in a fast paced adventure story.

Thought provoking story! Really loved it.,
Written by Mikiko Yokoyama on 21st Oct 2014

I just got done reading the first book in James Dasher's, the Maze Runner series, and picked up this awesome little gem in a package deal for rest of the other books in the series: First Impressions - There is a fair amount of build-up in the initial chapters. Usually I don't love the anticipation of a catastrophe, but in this case it's ok because the writing is compelling and they give a lot of character development while waiting for the big wave. The characters deal with things in a very natural way, in the sense that they don't feel forced and completely unrealistic. Nothing fake. Once the story starts moving (when the wave hits) - I couldn't put it down. Granted, I recently have been reading a lot of books like the Hunger Games series, so this disaster type book is right up my alley, but I really dug the way the characters had to eek out an existence on a tiny boat. A lot of great imagery. The characters were either super hatable or the people I want to make into my new BFF. Final Impressions - Really enjoyed the book overall and plan on passing it on to some friends. The story does leave a lot on the table. The what-happens-next factor is huge. I'm hoping for another book, or two or three? And not like a Song of Fire and Ice/Winds of Winter kind of thing!!!!!

Fast-paced and heartbreaking, but also hopeful
Written by Bridie on 1st Oct 2014

Wow, what a rollercoaster ride this was! Knockdown is such an amazing book that I'd recommend it to anyone who likes YA and survival stories. It's suspenseful, action-packed, fast-paced, and the dialogue feels natural and sharp. But Knockdown doesn't rely solely on the suspense and the natural disaster scenario to keep the reader entertained. What really got me were the characters. Character development was superb. I loved each and everyone of them simply because they were so well-written and so authentic. But my favourite was Cole. (Poor Cole!) Even nature and the boat acted as characters in the novel, and that made the story feel so much more realistic. The stakes were real, the tension palpable, and the pace was nerve-wracking. I just hope the novel gets a sequel

Adventurous and fast-paced thriller
Written by Book Lover on 1st Jul 2014

This is an exciting story that had me at the edge of my seat in every scene. The main character Toni forces herself to rise up to the challenges she faces in her adventurous journey. She has a lot to learn about life, but it’s through the unanticipated obstacles, strong bond of her brothers, and the new friendships she makes that she ultimately discovers herself. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves action, courage, and a ton of adventure in the vast, wide ocean.

Unpredictably suspenseful!
Written by Barbara Wood on 1st Jul 2014

As a middle school teacher I read a lot of young adult literature and I have to say that this was one of the best since Hatchet. I know my students are going to enjoy the story line, the characters, the suspense and the introduction into the world of sailing. The way the author weaves the sailing jargon into the dialog as the main characters teach their friends to sail takes the reader right along for the ride. I doubt many of my students have been on a sailboat and I know they will enjoy this adventure. But..... the best part was that it was so unpredictable. I loved the fact that 90% of the way through I still didn't know how it would end. The foreshadowing was so subtle that only after the fact was I able to see it. I love a read that is not predictable, especially in this genre. A great read....not only for young adults but everyone! I look forward to the next one

Teen Adventure at Sea
Written by Sandra on 1st Jul 2014

Knockdown hooked me from the first page. A survival story, it is filled with twists and turns, and peppered with a fast-paced writing style. The author writes about what she knows--and it shows. Vivid details about sailing are informative and fascinating. The teen characters are believable and courageous in the face of daunting circumstances. I look forward to the sequel.

KNOCKDOWN is a knockout
Written by Fiction Reader on 13th Jun 2014

I loved this book. It’s hard to put down, and it has everything I could possibly want in a novel: lots of action, suspense with real stakes, sweet romance, and an original plot. I like stories of survival against impossible odds. The suspense is almost unbearable at a times, but the lighthearted, humorous moments are there to give the characters respite and hope. It even has moral and ethical questions (I wouldn’t want to make the hard decision those teenagers had to make). My favorite characters are without a doubt, Toni, Takumi, and the Whistler (yes, the boat is a great character). I felt like I lived in the Whistler, and that made the story even more real and urgent. Toni is a one of a kind character, a real life girl who struggles at first, but grows and shows remarkable strength under unimaginable duress. It’s a fast-paced, engrossing novel: engaging characters, excellent plotting, sharp and realistic dialogue. I’m hoping for a sequel.