Underdogs Paperback – 26 Nov 2013
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PRAISE FOR UNDERDOGS
"Zusak's popularity is well-deserved. He writes emotionally engaging stories with understated humor and a bittersweet style that refuses to play by straightforward grammatical rules. His earliest published works share many of the same stylistic hallmarks and themes of belonging and survival." -- LOS ANGELES TIMES
"With this compilation release of THE UNDERDOG, the rough-and-tumble adventures of the Wolfe brothers are finally all assembled. Zusak's stunning use of language and rich character development are present, while the introduction of the family framework provides additional understanding for the sibling dynamic in the later stories. . . . Appealing to fans and providing an entry point for fresh readers, this is a much-appreciated addition to the Wolfe brothers' canon." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS
PRAISE FOR MARKUS ZUSAK
"THE BOOK THIEF will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity, also on display in his earlier I AM THE MESSENGER. It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that." -- NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Zusak doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE: with grim, darkly consoling humor." -- TIME MAGAZINE
About the Author
Marcus Zusak was born in 1975, the youngest of four children born to German and Austrian immigrant parents. Marcus studied teaching at university and gained experience teaching at the high school level.
Marcus began writing when he was sixteen years old, and completed his first (unpublished) manuscript at eighteen. While his writing may seem most relevant to young adults, he hopes that readers of all ages can discover meaning in his work.
Marcus Zusak lives in New South Wales, Australia.
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Top customer reviews
I love the Wolfe brothers and was really happy when 'Underdogs' was released because I finally got the opportunity to read the first book in the trilogy, 'Underdog'. All books are written beautifully, the brothers are so raw, fiercely loyal, the best of brothers but both very different. I have a soft spot for Cameron and he is one of my favourite characters in literature and 'Getting The Girl' shows you how wonderful a character that Cameron is. Ruben is also a well written character, he knows what he wants and works to get it, he also has a hidden side, there is the bravado Ruben and then there is the vulnerable Ruben. The brothers and their family are a joy to read, a solid family unit who will do anything for each other.
The trilogy shows the beginning of Markus Zusak and his individual style of writing.
The Underdog is the first in the Wolfe Brothers series by Australian author, Markus Zusak. Cameron Wolfe, aged fifteen, knows he is a dirty boy. After all, "..... all young boys are pretty disgusting, like beasts. Maybe the challenge was to somehow rise above it....." Cameron is a bit of a loner: he and his brother Ruben keep getting themselves into trouble, Cameron has a bit of sense (but not a lot), he doesn't have a girl (his hair is thick any furry and sticks up every which way). When he meets Rebecca Conlon, he's hoping he can be "nice and respectable instead of purely lustful and terrible". He's hoping for a chance. Zusak has created a great set of characters in the Wolfe family: through Cameron's 15 year-old eyes, we see a family that cares about its members, and we see Cameron maturing through ordinary events in everyday life. Zusak's format is 14 chapters of Cameron's narration told in an authentic teenage voice. Each chapter ends in a dream Cameron has had, some bizarre, some obviously related to events in his life. Cameron says in the first chapter that not a whole lot happens in the story: perhaps he is right, but by the time the last chapter is reached, most readers will want more of the Wolfe family. Luckily, there are two more in the series.
Fighting Ruben Wolfe is the second in the Wolfe Brothers series by Australian author, Markus Zusak. Quite a bit has changed in the Wolfe household in the last year: Cliff was injured at work, now has no jobs coming in and is feeling inadequate as the breadwinner; Mrs Wolfe, with two jobs, is working harder than ever; Steve is leaving home as his parents' pride won't allow them to take a contribution from him; Sarah is taking her break-up with Bruce hard, drinking too much and getting a less-than-desirable reputation; Ruben uses his fists to defend the family name. This and his bouts of backyard One Punch with Cam (born of having only one set of boxing gloves) helps set them on the road of illegal fights with promoter Perry Cole, not just for the money, Rube says, but "to get our self-respect back". This is a story about family loyalty, brothers supporting each other and having the heart to get up after you're knocked down. The format this time is sixteen chapters of Cameron's narration in a genuine teenage voice, each ending in a conversation between Rube and Cam. There is some lovely prose: ".....the sun is screaming out in pain on the horizon. The horizon swallows it slowly, eating it up whole." The dog illustrations are a cute touch.
When Dogs Cry is the third in the Wolfe Brothers series by Australian author, Markus Zusak. Another year has passed and the Wolfe family is in a better place: Cliff has plenty of work and Rube and Cam are working Saturdays with him; Mrs Wolfe is still working two jobs; Sarah is working hard and taking candid Polaroids in her spare time; Steve is working hard and winning weekend football; Cameron has taken to standing outside Stephanie's place in Glebe, hoping for a glimpse of the girl who doesn't care about him. When Rube, in his usual callous fashion, breaks up with the beautiful Octavia, Cameron is annoyed with Rube and sorry for Octavia. Until, that is, Octavia reappears with a question for him. Some of the prose is beautiful ("Soon the evening worked its way into the sky and the city hunched itself down"), but there are also instances where Zusak tries too hard and the result is woeful: "... the brief happiness left and a sadness tore me open very slowly and deliberately. City lights shone across the air, reaching their arms out to me, but I knew they'd never quite reach" (ugh!) This time the format is twenty chapters of Cameron's narration each ending with thoughts that Cameron (the fledgling author) has started to write down. This gives the series a semi-autobiographical feel. The characters, plot and dialogue are believable but the cute dog illustrations that graced the first two stories were absent from this one, even though the dog played a large part in Cameron's "words". With perhaps some insight into the author's life, these books are a good taste of early Zusak.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Despite being disappointed by the book as a whole, I was definitely NOT disappointed by the writing. There were numerous quotes in the book that I loved:
"He could have done anything he wanted. He could have said anything. He could have spat on them or hurled the can right back at them. But that was something they could have done just as easily."
"That was how he beat them. That was how he won. He did the only thing they weren't capable of themselves."
"I love her because she fights like hell. She fights better than Rube. Even Rube will tell you that - though her fight has nothing to do with fists. But it has plenty to do with blood..."