Bruiser by Neal Shusterman: Book Review

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman: Book ReviewBruiser by Neal Shusterman
Published by HarperCollins on 2011-10-04
Genres: Boys & Men, Family, Friendship, General, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352

New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman delivers a suspenseful and thrilling novel that's perfect for fans of Unwind and UnWholly.Tennyson is not surprised, really, when his family begins to fall apart, or when his twin sister, Brontë, starts dating the misunderstood bully, Brewster (or The Bruiser, as the entire high school calls him). Tennyson is determined to get to the bottom of The Bruiser's reputation, even if it means gearing up for a fight. Brontë, on the other hand, thinks there's something special underneath that tough exterior. And she's right…but neither she nor Tennyson is prepared for the truth of what lies below the surface. Told through Tennyson, Brontë, and Bruiser's points of view, this dark, twisting novel explores friendship, family, and the sacrifices we make for the people we love.Bruiser was named to the Texas Lone Star Reading List, among many other state lists, and was selected as a Book Page Top Ten Book of the Year, a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year, and a Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice.Supports the Common Core State Standards

After reading Unwind, I just knew that Neal Shusterman was going to become one of my favorite authors. His books can be quite disturbing, uncomfortable, and thought provoking. There is just something about his writing and characters that pull you in. He is excellent at writing about damaged characters, he definitely gives teenage characters a rough ride through life. You just want to crawl through the book, and hug each and every one of the them after some of the things they experience. At any rate, I just knew I would love Bruiser without a doubt. 

“What’s the point of living if you’re going to hate the world? Guard your heart if you have to, but don’t shut it away.”

Bruiser is not your typical loner guy. Not only is Bruiser this big guy voted most likely to receive the death penalty, he also has a condition allowing him to steal people’s pain and suffering. He typically does not get close to other people because of his ability, so he stays withdrawn for the most part. You just can’t help but to immediately start feeling sorry for him. Bruiser doesn’t really talk with many people until he goes on a date with Bronte. The problem is her twin brother, Tennyson, is not too keen on the idea given Bruiser’s reputation. Tennyson follows his sister and Bruiser to Wackworld for their first date…to play golf. Of course, Tennyson tries to intimidate Bruiser. The problem is there is so much more to Bruiser than anyone could ever imagine. As Bruiser starts coming around Bronte and Tennyson more, it gets harder for him to hide his ability to take their pain, suffering, and emotional turmoils away.

“It does, Tennyson, because there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. There’s a fine line between being assertive and being a bully. And you’re on the wrong side of both lines.” 

Not only does Bruiser sacrifice his body and mind for others, he has to deal with Uncle Hoyt’s abuse. Basically the uncle abuses Bruiser by beating his brother Cody knowing he will take his suffering away for him. It is pretty heart wrenching. Uncle Hoyt is so selfish he wants Bruiser to make the ultimate sacrifice for him. View Spoiler »

There is only one tiny little detail that kept Bruiser from receiving a five star rating from me. We never learn why Bruiser is able to take away pain and suffering from the people he cares about. This book is definitely character based, but I would have liked to learn more about Bruiser’s past and his condition/ability/curse. I don’t need to have a book wrapped up with all of the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, however, I think more insight would have made this book even more amazing. The entire time I was reading the story, I was waiting on an explanation.

“You are so obtuse!” Brontë says, exasperated.
I am calm in my response. “Do you mean stupid, or angular? You need to be more specific with your insults.” 

Overall, I really REALLY recommend Bruiser especially if you loved Unwind. It has a little drama, a sci-fi-magical-curse thing going on, and makes you feel the feels.

Overall: four-half-stars


Blogger at Spines & Covers
Samantha is a 31 year old reader, blogger, sucker for Netflix, and of course a Hogwarts Graduate (Gryffindor!). Her Siberian Husky completely owns he thinks. Follow Samantha on Goodreads.

Latest posts by Samantha (see all)

Divider image

Leave a Reply