For some reason, I felt the story told in this novel would be delivered more effectively as a screenplay. Shiraz does a fine job recreating the world of DC gang violence, demonstrating their honor codes, and how tedious living in the middle of such a territory can be. Without a doubt, Shiraz knows how to exemplify gang violence and the indelible trauma that follows.
However, much of the novel was very rushed, jumping from one scene to another, without introducing any visuals in order to establish setting. Minor characters were given too much airtime and sometimes caused spoilers, when the plot would have benefited from keeping certain characters intentions behind the scenes until the opportune time. Perhaps Shiraz was trying to give readers the full extent of how corrupted the community was, almost as if this corruption was what spawned the gang violence in the first place. However, there are many other concise ways to convey these facts without spoiling the plot.
"Retaliation" held my interest, and I would recommend it to teens. In fact, I will recommend it to my daughter when I get her home from school tomorrow. As I said, I believe this story is better suited for cinema, but would not think such a thing if Shiraz's novel did not contain powerful messages delivered by an entertaining plot and realistic cast of characters.