summer books: Bruiser

05/11/2012 § Leave a comment

Author: Neal Shusterman (author of Unwind)
Genre: Friendship, Hurt/Comfort (heavy on the hurt), Family, Drama
General Review: Yes. Read it. Most definitely.
Summary: 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. 

I wrote this back in June.
Note: All summaries of my reviews will come straight from unless otherwise stated so creds to them, yeah?

When I first started this book, I had just finished reading The Scorch Trials, which is book 2 of The Maze Runner series. I’m not going to talk about that series but basically, I had just finished an action-filled book with a lot of gore, blood, and suspense and I was constantly off the edge of my seat with that book. So when I started this quieter, more solemn and intuitive book, Bruiser, the sudden calm was a little off-putting and I was, honestly, bored. But that’s not to say that I was bored the entire time! No, of course not.

At first, Bruiser was a bit slow to start but I blame that on the fact that I had just read about teenagers trekking through deserts and away from running zombies. As I got into the book and learned about Brewster’s secrets (and what secrets they are!) and the factors that affected his character, it got more and more interesting. To put it simply, the storyline is one of a kind and though the main characters are put into a ridiculously surreal situation, Neal Shusterman handles it quite realistically and provides healthy answers to the readers’ constant questions in the form of his characters’ narrations.

Now, about those narrations. The four main narrations in the book come from Tennyson (the witty, headstrong, occasionally cocky but very strongly moralized, lacrosse-playing twin-brother), Brontë (the equally clever, thinks-with-both-head-and-heart, swimmer twin-sister who the Bruiser dates), Brewster (our quiet and mysterious bruiser), and Cody (the sweet, impulsive, innocent and very medically capable younger brother of Brewster). The thing about these narrations are that all four of them are written different.

Tennyson’s narration is in present-tense, and is my favorite point of view. Not only because Tennyson’s personality is my favorite out of everyone – because he’s a thinker, he notices things around him very quickly, and he’s totally objective about everything. He’s funny, sarcastic, riles his sister up easily, and thinks with his fists. Tennyson maintains an interesting character throughout the entire book and even if he’s the brother of the girl who’s dating the main character (what), I’m pretty sure he’s the one who provides the best coverage of the on-going story.

Then there’s Brontë’s narration, which is in past-tense. This is the form that’s normally used in novels, as many of us know, and though she does provide a lot of insight, they’re kind of clouded by her judgement. Maybe this is just me favoring one twin over the other (yes, this is so me favoring one twin over the other), but you can obviously tell that Brontë, though she always had the best interest in mind, always does things for Brewster. At the same time, the trait is admirable and you can’t help but nod approvingly whenever she gets her way with such ease. Maybe that’s what ticks me off because she constantly gets her way and always wants the upper-hand with her brother. …I’m sorry, I’m making her look like a bad guy. She really isn’t. She’s a sweetheart.

Now, Brewster writes in poetry-form. Say what? Yeah. He narrates in poems. Nothing rhymes, God, imagine how difficult that would’ve been to write, but Brew’s coverage of the story is obviously in the form of poetry, with the short, sometimes broken sentences, multiple verses, and long and thin paragraphs. This matches his personality because as the quiet, brooding guy, poetry seems to be the only way to completely capture the amount of emotion he’s going through and we all know that he’s basically a waterfall of emotions (this could be a pun and/or a reference but you’d only understand it if you read the book). However, Brew covered all of the reading-between-the-lines and gave us the perfect insight of what the subject of the book must have been thinking and feeling the entire time. Almost every time I read one of Brew’s narrations, I always thought, “Oh! That makes sense!” and thin veils of seemingly unimportant explanations were constantly revealed that helped to weave the story together more tightly. The poetry was weird for me at first because I thought Brew was being melodramatic. Eventually though, I realized that it totally matched his personality and the difference between his narrations and the twins’ was refreshing.

Finally, Cody also narrates in past-tense but he is so obviously the youngest one in the bunch with his spelling mistakes and kid-talk. And, personally, I don’t normally like dealing with kid-talk, like “wanna” and “Uncle Hoyt laughed real big,” but I was alright with it here. I liked Cody. I didn’t like that he constantly did stupid things but after I reminded myself that he is still a kid and kids can act are stupid sometimes, then all was well again. Cody gets Brewster the most and is probably the one that loves and cares for Brew between all of the characters in the book. He may show it in strange ways but he does and readers can’t deny it.

The tenses and variety of narrations are my favorite part of the book. It spices up the book and is the perfect way to get different perspectives while maintaining flow, simplicity and consistency.

I enjoyed this book. It started out slow and I thought I’d end up being bored with it the whole time, but the turnout of the events really got to me and towards the end of the book, I was genuinely worried for Brew. The ending is also open enough that readers can imagine their own epilogue and what comes next for the characters but it’s the sort of solidified ending that certainly satisfied me. The main thing I got out of reading this was that now, I understand why people enjoy Shusterman’s books. He is good, and he captures the human experience and soul very well.

It’s a good thing I have about two more of his books (courtesy of our school library) waiting for me.

Bless you if you read this whole thing.

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