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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

"There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends – why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained. I know, because they're happening to me."

When Brontë starts dating Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins – the guy voted “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” her twin brother, Tennyson, isn’t surprised. But then strange things begin to occur. Tennyson and Brontë’s scrapes heal unnaturally fast, and cuts disappear before their eyes. What at first seems like their good fortune turns out to be more than they bargained for…much more.

Released: June 29th 2010            Pages: 328
Publisher: HarperTeen                Source: Library

First Look: ***** I've been deliberating for awhile about whether or not I should read this.  I've read Neal Shusterman's Unwind series, and liked it, so I thought I'd give this a try.

Setting: ****The setting didn’t play much of a role in this book. I was given a clear enough idea of it so that I could picture it. That’s about as far as it went, though, which was fine with me. There isn’t a huge amount of worldbuilding to be done, typically, in a realistic fiction novel like this.

Characters: ***** Out of the three main characters—Tennyson, Bronte, and Brewster—I liked Bronte least. To me, she seemed the least real. Sometimes she was just too upbeat, and I didn’t like the way she thought of Brewster as her own personal fixer-upper project. She was so nosy, and I wanted to yell at her to just leave him alone.

I liked Tennyson better. He came across as more realistic. If nothing else, his portion of the story was more interesting. I liked his fierce protectiveness of his sister and Brewster. I could connect with him more, as a character, even though we had less in common—his emotions came through better, and that made me more attached to him.

Brewster, though, was my favorite. His story is the most painful, the most raw. I felt bad for him, and I genuinely wanted to see his situation improve. I cared about him. He has a tough life, and Neal Shusterman’s depiction of the effect of his strange ability was believable and thought-provoking.

Plot: ***** This book is more of a realistic fiction novel than I expected. I didn’t mind this, actually—I was expecting a more paranormal-ish book, but I actually like it better as a realistic novel with a hint of magical realism. The plot itself had many aspects, with Brewster’s growing friendships with Tennyson and Bronte, and the conflict between Tennyson and Bronte’s parents. I’ll admit that I found the storyline involving Brewster much more interesting, but then again, I’m drawn more to elements like this in novels.

Uniqueness: ****It has a unique blend of real-life problems that many teens face, and unusual, fantastical abilities like Brewster’s.

Writing:***** Some of the slang and phrases used bugged me. They seemed like they were trying too hard to sound like an “authentic teen voice”. It felt forced, and it stood out to me right away. Can authors please stop trying so hard to write with an “authentic teen voice”? Newsflash: there’s no such thing as an “authentic teen voice”. Instead, there are just plain old authentic voices. Every teen has an individual voice, too. Authors need to figure this out.

I’m not sure why Brewster’s point-of-view was written in verse. It didn’t even read like verse; it was more narration with weird line breaks than anything else. I don’t think the verse was necessary, and it threw me off at first. 

Likes: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: Tennyson and Bronte's names made me roll my eyes.

Overall: Bruiser is a unique novel with an interesting blend of realistic modern-day teen life and problems, and a bit of magical realism.  The characters are likable, for the most part, though Bronte bugged me.  I loved Brewster, though--he was written in a way that made him very real.  The concept is interesting, and the execution is enjoyable and thought-provoking, for the most part.  Some odd-sounding slang, however, annoyed me.  Four stars.

Similar Books: It's a real-life story with a touch of magical realism like Invisibility or Every DayBrewster's ability reminds me of Jacob's in Thirteen Days to Midnight or even the abilities in Touched.
And now for some random updates and thoughts:
  • I actually spent the entirety of last week staffing at Celebrate Me Week, which is a week-long Christian camp in Minnesota specifically for kids entering the seventh grade.  I had so much fun, and I'm left with an obsession for this song, which has a beautiful message and an awesome video.
  • I also have a newfound obsession for 'Millionaires' by The Script, 'Better Days' by The Goo Goo Dolls, 'Your Bones' by Of Monsters and Men, and 'I'm Still Here' by John Rzeznik.
  • When I got home from camp, I found an email waiting in my inbox, telling me I was part of the top 1% of Goodreads reviewers.  Well, cool.  I think?  Do I get to do something cool, now, or do I just get bragging rights?  Do I get phenomenal cosmic powers or something?  I did the math, and apparently I'm in the top 200,000 reviewers, out of 20 million.  So I guess it isn't even that special.  Still...thanks for anyone who followed me or liked my reviews!

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1 comment:

  1. I had only just started this book when the library loan expired. In a rare moment of reading-laziness I didn’t renew it. Yet I kept thinking about the characters and wondering what was happening with them. I’m glad I went back to find out.

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