Annette's Reviews > Bruiser

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
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's review
Jul 03, 2012

really liked it

The best adjectives I can think of for Bruiser are unexpected and unique.

I don't want to explain too much about the story (and I appreciated that the jacket flap doesn't give anything away). Tennyson and Bronte are twins. (Their parents are English Lit professors--can you tell?) Tennyson is the athletic tough brother. Bronte begins to date Brewster (whose nickname is Bruiser) and Tennyson doesn't approve. Brewster is one of those kids whose clothes don't fit; he's a loner and lives in a run-down house. He's quiet at school and doesn't have many friends.

Tennyson tries to find out more about Brewster, so he can get Bronte to drop him, but the plan backfires. What he figures out is quite surprising and not at all what he expected. He's still worried about Bronte, but doesn't want to tell her his suspicions. Soon, Bronte understands Brewster's special abilities and the difficulties he faces. But no one can understand how Brewster's life will be affected as his relationships with Bronte, Tennyson, their parents, and their friends develop.

Shusterman, as usual, delivers a quick, fast-paced, tightly written teen story that is easy to read and appropriate for boys or girls. It is interesting how our first impressions of Brewster turn out to be so wrong. I did see the implications of Brewster's ability long before the characters in the book, but it was still interesting to watch them proceed through the plot, which seems like it can only end in disaster. And I grew to care enough about the characters, well, especially Brewster, enough that I didn't want bad things to happen!

Brewster's little brother, Cody, and their Uncle Hoyt are the only side characters that really add anything. Yes, the professorial parents are in the story, but they aren't very well-developed.

Bruiser defies classification. Yes, there is a bit of a paranormal ability, but it reads like a contemporary teen problem novel. Bruiser should appeal to a wide variety of teens, including reluctant readers and those who like books with a unique premise. If you are a fan of Shusterman, Bruiser is a must.

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