Genre: YA, contemporary
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: From the bestselling author of THE BOOK THIEF
Before THE BOOK THIEF, Markus Zusak wrote a trilogy of novels about the Wolfe Brothers: THE UNDERDOG, FIGHTING RUBEN WOLFE, and GETTING THE GIRL. Cameron and Ruben Wolfe are champions at getting into fights, coming up with half-baked schemes, and generally disappointing girls, their parents, and their much more motivated older siblings. They're intensely loyal to each other, brothers at their best and at their very worst. But when Cameron falls head over heels for Ruben's girlfriend, the strength of their bond is tested to its breaking point.
We're proud to present these novels together for the first time, and to be introducing American readers to THE UNDERDOG, never before published in the United States. Fans of THE BOOK THIEF won't want to miss reading the novels that launched Markus Zusak's stellar career.
Thoughts on the Overall Book: I decided to just review this addition so I can review all three books together in order to compare them. They were, of course, brother stories, and that always makes me enjoy things so much more and I really did love reading about the Wolfe brothers.
Cover--Yea or Nay: Meh, it's okay. Nothing really special, but I do like silhouettes as opposed to character impersonators.
Characters: These are definitely character driven stories, so having good characters is very important, and I ended up really liking Cameron and Ruben Wolfe. Their dynamic was so true to life between siblings and especially brothers that I couldn't help but love them. Just the way they interacted, and lovingly abused each other and always got into trouble together was so perfect. It's obvious that the author had lots of personal experience between siblings, so many writers can't get it correctly and I think it's because they either are only children or had a poor relationship with their siblings. These books were perfect though, and even the 'chick flick' moments between them were perfect, not too mushy, but enough to get the point across. I also liked reading about the rest of their family. Their overachieving older brother who originally thought they were losers and their older sister who they were protective of as they should be, which I thought was sweet. And their parents having to deal with it all and not going crazy, like the boys, I came to appreciate them as well. What I loved most though, was how the dynamic on the family only grew through the hardships they went through and became closer. None of the characters in this were static, they were all very dynamic and enjoyable to read about. Oh yes, and how could I forget Miffy the Pomeranian? I grew to love that dog as much as the boys did, even though they would never really admit it ;)
The Romance: No romance until book three Getting the Girl and that romance between Cam and Octavia was actually very sweet and enjoyable to read about. And don't worry, despite what it sounds like, it's really not a love triangle between her and the brothers, otherwise I would have hated it. I didn't totally understand the problems that ensued from Octavia's standpoint, but I liked how it was quietly reconciled. Book Three, however, really turned more into a story about the brothers reconciling than an actual romance which only got more points from me.
Writing Style: I think it's fair to point out that the first book The Underdog was the author's first novel and it tells, it really wasn't that good, and the writing style was a little jerky, but the second one is much better and the third even better than that. It's written in Cam's voice and Cam being a teenage boy, it is understandable that the thought process is a little disjointed and it actually made it easier for me to get into his head. I really liked how there was a little extra bit at the end of each chapter though; in the first book, it was a recounting of one of Cam's dreams, in the second, a conversation he had with Ruben, and in the third, one of his writings that he took up. I really like it when authors do stuff like that and it kind of helps to end the chapters and go to the next more smoothly.
Accuracy/ Believability: Not much you can mess up in contemporary, but I will say again that the relationship the brothers shared was very true to life.
Problems/What bothered me: Not really any major problems, I was afraid things would get messier than they did in the third book, but everything turned out right. Several times I wanted to shake my head at the boys for the choices they made, but they were very realistic characters and I can't hate them for being human.
Conclusion: The Underdog: 3 stars Fighting Ruben Wolfe: 4 stars Getting The Girl: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this series and I'm glad I decided to pick them up. I wanted brother stores and I was not disappointed. The brother feels at the end of Fighting Ruben Wolfe were lovely and I actually teared up during the 'he ain't heavy, he's my brother moment' in Getting The Girl Just lovely :)
Recommended Audience: Good guy read, ages 17 and up, if you love sibling stories, definitely check these out, you won't be disappointed.