Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Recommendation: BRUISER by Neal Shusterman

I decided to check out BRUISER after reading Kelly’s recommendation, and I’m so glad I did. It was one of the best book decisions I’ve made in a while:)

BRUISER begins as a gentle love story between swimmer Bronte and loner Brewster with all the usual suspects: Bronte’s overprotective brother, Tennyson; Brewster’s quirky younger brother, Cody; Bronte’s in-the-middle-of-their-mid-life-crises parents; Brewster’s alcoholic uncle. But when Bronte discovers Brewster’s gift to absorb physical and emotional pain, the novel takes an unexpected turn. And that’s where the story stays. In un-expectation.

The novel unfolds through the first-person narration of four characters, and yet each of these four voices is distinctive and engaging. Tennyson’s chapters read like something written by an actual teenage boy, which isn’t the easiest point-of-view to pull off (although I would expect Mr. Shusterman, who was once a teenage boy himself, to be able to handle that point-of-view better than, say, me), and Brewster’s chapters, which are written in stunning free verse, provide both the novel’s highest highs and its lowest lows. Moreover, the storyline feels fresh and fully developed, like Mr. Shusterman really took the time to explore the implications of his plot points and the consequences of his characters’ decisions.

BRUISER reads like a contemporary, but the not-normal twist definitely pushes this into the category of genre-bending for me. It’s a fantastic read from start to finish, one that I’ll be recommending for years to come.

12 comments:

Pam Harris said...

Oooh, this sounds great. Thanks for sharing! :)

Krista V. said...

It is great, Pam. I hope you like it.

Jennifer said...

Sounds interesting - thanks for the recommendation!

Liesl said...

I will give it a whirl. I still need to read Heist Society.

Krista V. said...

Jennifer, you're welcome.

Liesl, I think you might like BRUISER more than HEIST SOCIETY. Seems like your tastes lean more literary, and although I wouldn't call either one that, BRUISER is definitely the less commercial of the two.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I want to read this one. I love books with free verse in them and I need to read more of them (so my attempts at free verse can get better). Thanks for the recommendation, Krista! :)

Amy

Kelly Bryson said...

Oooh, you're a much better reviewer than I am! I'm glad you liked it. I saw Bruiser at B&N on a low shelf, all neglected, and it made me sad that it didn't have it's own little corner of a table.

It's funny what sticks out to people. The free verse didn't register in my brain as poetry, but I guess that's what it was. Thanks for the link. Sorry I haven't been around much. Life and all is getting in the way of my internet habit.

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks, Krista! It sounds fabulous, but I think I would have passed over the cover and missed it. I'll have to add it to my TBR list.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Wow, this looks really good! I'm intrigued by the free verse element. Thanks for the recommendation.

LS said...

If this is as good as his novel Unwind, it must be awesome!
Neal Shusterman is fabulous.

Krista V. said...

Amy, I thought of you as I read this. I hope you like it.

Kelly, don't know if I'm a better reviewer than you (I did just tell everyone what Brewster's gift is, whereas you managed to keep it to yourself), but that's too bad BRUISER didn't get a better spot on the shelf. Don't publishers pay for prime placement? So if you're not one of the imprints leading titles for that season, you're probably not going to get much:(

Myrna, you're right that the cover doesn't really do it justice. I can't think of a better one, though. You'll have to let me know what you think.

Ishta, you're welcome. I hope you like it as much as I did.

LS, I just started UNWIND, and so far, I like BRUISER better.

Krista V. said...

Hmm, pretend I said "imprint's" and not "imprints" like a moron...