7. The Underdog Markus Zusak
This young adult story is Markus Zusak’s first novel. Though very short, it gives a wonderful insight into the workings of a teen boy’s mind. I don’t know if it was just the books I was choosing to read at the time, but all the books I encountered when I was a young adult focussed on the anxiety of teen girls. I wish that I had come across a book like this back when I was a teenager, maybe then boys wouldn’t have been the complete enigma that they seemed to be (unlike now when I have them all worked out –yeah right).
I was lucky enough to see Markus Zusak talk at a writers festival recently, and from the story he relayed there I suspect that more than one or two of the anecdotes in The Underdog are written from firsthand experience. Maybe that is what gives them their sense of honesty.
Zusak’s prose is easy to read without being the least bit condescending, and moves along at a great pace. Each chapter ends with a dream sequence, which I must confess seemed a little more sensible and less dream-like as the book progressed, but they worked well, and never got in the way of the story.
For fans of The Book Thief (among which I firmly count myself) you will not find a similar book in The Underdog, but the tight writing and character exploration is definitely there. All in all a good book which I would HIGHLY recommend teenage girls read as well.