As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

February 17, 2012

The UNDERDOGS Series, by Markus Zusak, 1999

Boys are like dogs - ready to bite, bark and beg to be given a chance to show their value.. "I vowed that if I ever got a girl I would treat her right and never be bad or dirty to her or hurt her, ever." Cameron Wolfe is a dirty boy. He knows it. His brother Rube knows it, because he's one too. they could change - but what would it take? (Goodreads)

Review by Jessica Day George, Author and Bookshop Talk Host

Magnificent! I know THE BOOK THIEF is Zusak's novel that all kiddies rave about, and don't get me wrong: that is a brilliant book and I love it.  But then I discovered GETTING THE GIRL, which led me to find FIGHTING RUBEN WOLFE, which brings us here, to the first US publication of THE UNDERDOG, contained in this omnibus of all three Wolfe brothers books.  If you don't, from the first chapter of THE UNDERDOG (or any of the other two, really), fall madly in love with the endearingly awkward and yet strangely beautiful Cameron Wolfe, then something is terribly wrong with you.  Cameron's voice is so clear, so poetic, and so raw, that I could literally read about him all day, every day.  Cameron feels like a friend, an intimate friend, like your brother even.  The things that happen in these books are heartbreaking, yet not without humor, and not without (most importantly) hope.  So many authors (particularly in YA) don't seem to understand that human beings need that ray of hope to carry on.  The characters need it to feel real, and like their lives will continue beyond the pages of the book, and the reader needs it in order to feel good about the book after they close the covers.

These books are proof that Zusak is a born writer.  Each book here is separate, and yet each is a part of the same magnificent story.  THE UNDERDOG, has a beautiful, clear naivete.  FIGHTING RUBEN WOLFE is raw and powerful, and GETTING THE GIRL is like a burst of light.  Read them separately, read them all at once, I don't care!  JUST READ THEM!

And if I ever start a band, our name is going to be Bloody Miffy.

MARKET: Contemporary YA
LANGUAGE: The Wolfe brothers talk rough, things like calling each other “bastard” and “wanker”, and they use “bloody” a lot.  But that’s the extent of it.
VIOLENCE: Organized boxing and fistfights.
SENSUALITY: Teenage boys fantasize about girls, but nothing graphic.
MATURE THEMES: Poverty, threats of violence/beatings, some mild gambling, having inappropriate thoughts about the opposite sex.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the amazing writing in the Book Thief. If this is anything like that, and it sounds like it is, I know I'll love it too.