My mom introduced me to this great author, Markus Zusak, when she gave me one of his books for Christmas a couple years ago. This book was The Book Thief. If you have not read this book, you must go out now and go to your nearest book store or library and get a copy. It is fantastic and definitely one of the most original and astounding books in modern literature I've ever read.
When I find an author I like I read everything of theirs that I can get my hands on. I have all of Zusak's published books and have now read three of the four books. His second book I read was written just before The Book Thief. It is titled I Am the Messenger.
The Book Thief had such an amazing voice to it. Zusak's writing is fresh and different. He uses colors and symbolism in ways that you don't see in literature these days. You see it a lot in classic literature. In I Am the Messenger, Zusak still has his magical turn of phrase and mastery of plot.
Now, as I finally get to my point, I just read his very first published novel. First novels are interesting because it is the chance for the author to prove himself. I'm not sure what I was expecting with Zusak's first novel. I was not disappointed.
Fighting Ruben Wolfe is really short. If it weren't printed in a tiny paperback with larger printing it would probably only be about 50 pages, I'm estimating. I was impressed that Zusak, even in his first book, was still an amazing writer. I could tell he was just barely finding his voice, his style, but it was apparent that he was comfortable with the direction he was going.
Something I noticed that wasn't really seen that much in his later books was that he uses a lot of fragment sentences. It has a nice effect in this book.
Instead of going on about how great Zusak is I will, instead, give you a taste of what he's like. This is an excerpt from Fighting Ruben Wolfe and one of my favorite parts. Enjoy.
When I'm there Rube's eyes fire into mine. Make sure you get up, they tell me, and I nod, then jump up. The jacket's off. My skin's warm. My wolfish hair sticks up as always, nice and thick. I'm ready now. I'm ready to keep standing up, no matter what, I'm ready to believe that I welcome the pain and that I want it so much that I will look for it. I will seek it out. I'll run to it and throw myself into it. I'll stand in front of it in blind terror and let it beat me down and down till my courage hangs off me in rags. Then it will dismantle me and stand me up naked and beat me some more and my slaughter-blood will fly from my mouth and the pain will drink it, feel it, steal it, and conceal it in the pockets of its gut and it will taste me. It will just keep standing me up, and I won't let it know. I won't tell it that I feel it. I won't give it the satisfaction. No, the pain will have to kill me.
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.