Review: Bruiser (Neal Shusterman)

AUTHOR: Neal Schusterman
SERIES: none
ISBN:  9780061134104
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: My MS library
GENRE: Realistic with a paranormal twist
OVERALL RATING: Neutral opinion

SUMMARY: When his twin sister Bronte starts dating Brewster Rawlins, the school’s most dangerous loser, 16-year old Tennyson feels it’s his brotherly duty to separate the two. But as Tennyson and Bronte learn more about Brewster and his family, they become entangled in Brewster’s family’s secrets, even as their own family continues to fall apart. 

WHAT I LIKED: First of all, I have to say that Neal Shusterman is already a YA legend. The author of  over 30 YA books, Shusterman’s novels never cease to be edgy, unique, and crazy-creative. He has written so many different books of vastly different genres and storylines that I can’t imagine how there is room in one brain for all that.

Okay, so yeah, I’m a fan. When I sat down to read Bruiser, I had high expectations right from the start. I love when different characters tell the story from their own perspectives, and four different characters narrate Bruiser at various points in the story. Each character has his/her own voice, and Shusterman does this so well that I can tell who is speaking without the person’s name at the beginning of each section. I especially love Brewster’s voice, which is appropriately poetic.

I love how Bruiser, Tennyson, and Bronte’s chapter titles are SAT-ish vocabulary words. Seventy-five cent words, as my former English teacher used to call them. Humorously off-setting this are 8-year old Cody’s more simple chapters, all of which are titled “Stuff.” Awesome.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: I think I fell victim to my own high expectations on this one. I know several people who have praised Bruiser big-time. Goodreads ratings are well into the 4s, which means lots of people love this book. I just wasn’t feeling this one. Realistic fiction is not my favorite genre to begin with, but Bruiser could also be classified as paranormal (which I love). The story is a little quiet at times; lots of thinking and reflecting going on in the story. While I love Cody’s voice and character, Tennyson’s self-centered-ness and Bronte’s whiny, Little Miss Perfect-ness really got under my skin at times.

Too much thinking and talking; too little action. At  only 300+ pages, it was too long and slow for me.


  • Language: G
  • Sexuality: G
  • Violence:  PG
  • Drugs/Alcohol: PG

READALIKES: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halprin (Berk); Gifted (Evangelista); Playing with Fire (Prue)

STATUS IN THE LIBRARY: We have it, and it is on the 2011-2012 Lone Star list. Books on this list are extremely popular due to a program we run in our district, and Bruiser has already been a popular choice. Fans of Unwind (and we have tons of them) are especially eager to read Bruiser.

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