Book Review – The Wolfe Brothers Trilogy by Markus Zusak

A lot of people have read Markus Zusak’s most recent work, The Book Thief. It is a brilliant work, and I recommend you all read it if you haven’t. It is the book that he will become a legend for writing, I am sure. It’s a masterpiece of modern literature. It’s won awards.

But it isn’t the book that made me decide Markus Zusak would be placed in a position of honor on my very short list of absolutely amazing writers. No, I wouldn’t have even read it if he hadn’t already triggered in me a primal love of his work.

It wasn’t a brave German girl living a thrilling life in Nazi Germany that made me decide Zusak was a master of the craft of writing.

It was a “bit of a lonely bastard,” a “dirty boy” from Australia.

It was the words and actions of Cameron Wolfe.

The Wolfe Brothers Trilogy

Three books, three significant chunks of Cameron Wolfe’s life. That’s what you get with the Wolfe Brothers Trilogy.

And no, it has nothing to do with werewolves.

Cameron is a depressed teenager. He’s the youngest of 4 children, and extremely close to his brother Ruben, just a year older than he is.

The two of them are prone to doing stupid things in the pursuit of not being complete wankers, but there is a definite difference between them.

Ruben is a tough, blunt, and direct to the point. He’s handsome, charming, and honest.

Cameron… is possibly schizophrenic, actually. It’s never actually mentioned in the books, but as I listened to them (being read by the extremely talented and voice flexible Stig Wemyss), I couldn’t help but think about Cameron’s emotional state and the seemingly constant hallucinations that plague him. Actually, that’s a fairly common theme of Zusak’s writing, hallucinations, and I’m probably reading too much into  Cameron’s, but I couldn’t help but think about it.

Cameron is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and his pain bottled up until it explodes. He’s the one telling us his story, and we pretty much have to take his word for it going down the way he said, but it can be confusing because he seems to skip around in the time line a bit (another common trait of Zusak’s narrators), and can be prone to forgetting to mention things until their relevancy comes up again.

To me, it made for a book series that was written as if it was being told by word of mouth, and it made me wonder how much of it was drawn from Zusak’s real life.

I wish there were more books in the series, because I’d like to see what happens to an adult Cameron and Rube.

I care about these characters, and I guarantee you I will be visiting them again in the future.

The Underdog

I messed up. I read the second book of the trilogy before I read the first. I didn’t even know it was a trilogy at the time. I’m glad I discovered the other two books later. I think because of that, The Underdog comes off in my mind a a bit of a prologue to the second book, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and in a way, I guess that’s the idea of how a trilogy should work.

Really, the story is pretty simple. Cameron works with his dad one Saturday and develops a crush on the daughter of their employer. He develops hopeless crushes a lot. That’s one of Cameron’s 2 defining traits. He falls in love, and he always gets back up.

The rest of the book is just setting the back drop for a teenaged boys pining over a girl for a few weeks.

It really is that simple in the plot, but…

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a teenage boy with a giant crush, but I got drawn into Cameron’s world. I didn’t want to let it go, actually. Everything about his life, his longing to find himself, and his undefeatable crush on a girl that doesn’t even really know him is addicting.

I couldn’t stop going back to his words and really listening.

It’s a great book, and I think every teenager should read it. Guys to help them understand themselves a bit, and gals to help them understand guys a bit.

The world would be a better place.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe

What are two desperate teenage brothers to do when they need to prove their manhood.

Of course, they enter the world of illegal underground boxing.

Again, plot isn’t important this is a journey of characters through some serious growing pains.

The entire family is going through some pangs at this point, and Cameron lays it all out for us in a way that just makes a man want to howl.

When I first read this book, I thought it was brilliant. I mean pretty much immediately.

It’s just a bit dark and disgruntled and carries the spirit of kicking ass just to survive with it.

Getting the Girl (When Dogs Cry)

The final book of the trilogy find Cameron alone. Not even his brother Rube is still roaming the streets with him as he makes that last final desperate climb out of adolescence and into early adulthood. It’s finally come down to the realization for Cam that he is a loser and that everyone else in his family is better than him.

Of course, that is, until two things happen:

1) He starts writing.

2) He meets her.

There’s a lot to this book. It’s an emotional powerhouse, but that could just be because of how much I relate to Cameron Wolfe.

In the end, I think the entire Wolfe family ends up being cast into a completely new light as Cameron realizes he isn’t really the Underdog anymore.

He’s a Wolfe, too.


Final Statement

If Markus Zusak wrote it, I’ll read it… then probably read it again in a few months.

This series is absolutely amazing, and you should already be reading it…

Why aren’t you reading it yet?