I picked this book up because of the author, Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief, which is written incredibly well.
Fighting Ruben Wolfe is above al...moreI picked this book up because of the author, Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief, which is written incredibly well.
Fighting Ruben Wolfe is above all, a story of brothers. Cameron Wolfe is the younger, shy boy with all the heart and cares about everything. He loves his brother, he's tough like a survivor, he'll get back up after getting beat down. Ruben Wolfe is the tough one, the one doing the beating up, the one with a perfect record, who can drop anyone. The bond of brotherhood between them is incredibly strong, as their family is struggling financially, and all they've got left is their pride, and their family. They first get involved with boxing because of the money, but then... it's about the fight. Fighting and surviving, proving you're a winner. They are invovled in an illegal boxing scam, that will push them to their limits in the ultimate face-off.
I really liked this novel, which surprised me, since it's such a 'boy' novel (not to be sexist or anything). The plot isn't mindblowing, but it's decent. These boys have nowhere to go, so they turn to boxing every Sunday in an organized boxing scam. Cameron, aptly named the Underdog, fights to 'survive', told to get back up after getting hit, recognized for his heart. Ruben, on the other hand, is nicknamed Fighting Ruben Wolfe, which fits him perfectly. He's a fighter, he's tough, he can take anyone without fear.
I love Zusak's writing in this novel, told from Cam's POV. It's raw, straight-forward, and direct. It feals extremely real, from when he talkes about his fear in the ring, to when he talks about his fear of who Ruben seems to be becoming. The prose is effective, suiting him very well with all the slangs and way of speech. The ways Zusak writes makes the story richer, like when he writes something like:
He's Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Or is he actually fighting Ruben Wolfe? Inside him. Proving himself. To himself. I don't know. It's in each eye. The question. Each breath. Who's fighting who? Each hope. (120)
That's how it's actually written, and it makes the novel work. Come on, tell me that's not some pretty unique and amazing writing.
The thing I liked the most, however, would be the bond between the two. Not the individual characteristics, but the brotherly 'love'. Rube can read Cam perfectly, says aloud what Cam says in his head. Cam worries about Ruben becoming something 'different' because of the fights, something he doesn't recognize anymore. I think the scene where Rube tells a girl she's not worthy of Cam, although he was on the losing end of a match, was powerful, and really exemplified their bond and loyalty. It's obvious on so many counts that they would do anything for each other, so what happens when they are scheduled to fight one another?
3.5/5 - because I really liked many aspects of the novel. It was a pretty quick read for me, and the writing was engaging so I read it all in one go. The plot was okay, and don't worry, the boxing matches aren't gory-fied, but still well written. I didn't love-love-love it, but I really liked it. Especially loved Cam and Rube and their brotherly-ness. Very realistic for someone in their situation (in my head, that's what I imagine). I liked the writing more than the plot. I would recommend this to boys, maybe people who like fighting novels. But this isn't all about fighting, it's beyond that, it's about family and survival. I'm iffy about recommending it to girls though. (less)