Underdogs

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Underdogs
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 13, 2011
ISBN
9780545354424
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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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Under Dogs
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
This is a book boys everywhere are sure to enjoy. It's filled with lots of boyish things like hair brained schemes that go awry, girls, blood, guts, girls, mysterious smells, action, girls, fighting, and did I mention girls? There's talking about girls, thinking about girls, writing about girls, girls, girls, girls! So, it's not all about girls but hey, that's what occupies a teen boy's mind 24/7 pretty much. The main difference between Cameron Wolfe and his brother Ruben is, Cameron wants to find love, and it all starts with a trip to the dentist…

This story is the coming of age journey of Cameron Wolfe, the youngest of four in a hard working, blue collar family from Australia who struggles to find himself not only in his own family but in the world around him. His oldest brother Steve is deemed the "winner", next comes his sister, Sarah who is popular with the boys and then there's Ruben, Cameron's other brother and best friend. He's also his only friend as Cameron's a bit of a loner. Cameron spends most of his time getting caught up in all kinds of mischief with Ruben, much of it involving either their backyard boxing game of "One Punch" or the neighbor's dog, "Miffy". He can't seem to break away from his brother's shadow and where Ruben is outgoing, good looking and anything but shy, Cameron is the opposite and often takes solace in his "words", the thoughts and feelings he pens to paper but keeps secret from everyone.

"In Fighting Ruben Wolfe" and "Getting the Girl", changes begin to take place both within the family as well as the relationship between Cameron and Ruben. The boys find themselves involved in an illegal boxing arena that strengthens their brotherly bond only to have it challenged a few months later by a certain girl. Tensions grow in the house and this becomes a turning point for Cameron whose words become stronger, even if only on paper and he slowly begins to see himself for who he really is and who he can be. Both boys learn lessons about pride and the difference between being a "winner" versus a "fighter" with Ruben explaining it this way, "Yeah, anyone can stop you being a winner. Only you yourself can make you stop fighting." Ruben Wolfe

The boys have a serious falling out and are eventually brought back together by two particularly heart wrenching scenes, one involving a yappy ball of fur and the other is a rescue worthy of a "Best Brother Ever" award. By the end of the book, the boys are still close, but a shift has taken place and new respect has been earned. It becomes clear that neither Cameron nor Ruben stands in anyone's shadow. They've both realized that they don't have to live up to the standard the world has set for them, only the standard they've set for themselves and they're fighters and fighters keep fighting until you can't get back up.

Good Points
Cameron and Ruben have a strong brotherly bond. The Wolfe family as a whole sticks together even when things are tough.
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User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0  (2)
Characters 
 
5.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (2)
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No Hyperbole Can Exaggerate The Importance Of This Significant Voice
(Updated: February 29, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
"Do we spend most of our days trying to remember or forget things? Do we spend most of our time running toward or away from our lives? I don't know." -- Cameron Wolfe (from Fighting Ruben Wolfe)

I am unable to understand why there are not legions of people carnivorously consuming all that Mr. Zusak has to offer. Because of this damning epidemic, I have seriously considered crusading for this cause. I understand that I have already written a review for this collection of novellas, but what those who have not read Zusak - or at least read beyond the life-changing novel, The Book Thief - is that what awaits is a unique and salient voice itching to entertain, inform and edify about the powerful and cleansing strength of a life full of pain, failure, lessons learned, lessons documented and an unbreakable bond of personal relationships.

So, please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeease! Read more of these powerful texts... and then read them again... and then give them to someone else to read... and then make them read them again. Trust me, we can only benefit.
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Okayness - and how does one achieve this?
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What makes up an individual into the person one hopes to be? What components to a person's life are most crucial to this formation of self? To which extent is an understanding or reconciliation of these personal elements required for one to achieve a satiated level of "okayness"?

These are the questions that auspiciously consume the pages of Markus Zusak's sweet and endearing novella. In my own chronology of Mr. Zusak's erudite adventures, following I Am The Messenger and The Book Thief, the third book in my path, Getting The Girl feels decidedly more deliberate and minimalist. With the protagonist, Cameron Wolfe, ever searching for a hunger and desire within, readers my find themselves, along with Cam, searching for what it is they also are hungry for. In a completely charming approach, Getting The Girl offers fun and amusing perspectives on the intimate value of words, stories and a sense of feeling. Most predominantly, Mr. Zusak frames a portrait of personal familial relationships and how the person that one perceives in themselves informs the perception others have in them; and vise-versa.
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