Review: Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

19838559Blurb from Goodreads

Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that’s even worse in Anthony Breznican’s Brutal Youth

With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the militantly religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek enrolls. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a dark past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Pascall —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by malevolent administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their disturbed guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the plotting parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
edition language: English
genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

“Everybody is somebody’s bully.”

I don’t think I ever read books with most of the characters I dislike so much. There are at least 44 characters here but I only liked 2 of them, Noah Stein and Peter Davidek. Of course, my level of dislike is different for each character. There are characters that I only slightly dislike, like Davidek and Hannah Kraut. But there are that I hate I can’t believe the author can write them down.

Another thing is Brutal Youth has one brutal prologue. I often consider prologue as a glimpse into the story. If I like it enough, I’ll mostly love the whole story. This prologue intrigued me to read more but it’s so long I wonder whether it’s actually a few chapters combine. In fact each chapter in this book doesn’t even that long. It’s definitely the longest prologue I’ve ever read. As much as I liked it, it was just too long for me and made me put the book on hold especially after my friend who was buddy reading it with me has finished and disliked it so much.

I still feel indifferent about this book, to be honest. As a fictional story, I didn’t enjoy reading it. Too much brutal things happen with too many characters that made me sick. I just couldn’t believe the way the teachers pretend they don’t know what happen in St. Michael the Archangel High School. They are often reasoning things to make it look more acceptable. Again, it’s just sickening. The worst is they also bully the students, in a way. And I think the story is too long. There are the similar things happen again and again. And reading brutal bullying so many times was quite a torture for me.

“But remember that big speech of his? The one about how people do bad stuff to get what they want, but people only do good stuff out of selfishness, too? Well, maybe he was wrong. Maybe sometimes, people just do … stuff. Because they don’t know what else to do. Or out of pure craziness. Or who-knows-why.”

And the students are truly brutal. They bully other students in the name of revenge and/or have their own reason. Their motive is different from each other, but it ends at the same thing, avoiding the bullying. So it’s just like a cycle, there are never ending bullying. The bully can also be bullied. Everybody is somebody’s bully.

[…]”Excuses. Maybe it’s the way you talk, or the color of your skin, or the color of your underwear, or whether you’ve got a clip-on around your neck. Assholes will find a reason to fuck with you. So I’m going to wear your clip-on proudly. Let them mess with me. The way I see it, this tie is a shithead detector.”

Since I dislike most students, the one that I liked more than any character, Noah Stein, seems so much different from all of characters. He sounds more mature and ‘deep’ compare to other students.

Stein didn’t try so hard to make anyone else like him. He was never the go-along type,[..]
I liked that he stand up for himself and for his friends and disagree with the bullying, though it doesn’t make much different for him. I think I see him as a tiny light in a dark place, there is still hope around that brutal school.

Stein dropped his bag and said, “To hell with it, I’m fighting these assholes.”

As contemporary/realistic story, I think I can relate it to real life. There is initiation tradition at most schools in my country. It usually happens in the beginning of school year, to freshman from the senior and/or in the beginning of extracurricular activity. It’s mostly about doing ridiculous things and wearing humiliating things. As you can see in these pictures (they are freshmen of Junior High School. Indonesia educational level is 6 years in Elementary School, 3 years in Junior High School and 3 years in Senior High School)

But it doesn’t happen for a whole year like in St. Michael. It happens a week before they start the school year and that’s it. No more humiliation ritual that are supported by the school. Well…at least that’s what I know and from my experience when I was in junior high school and senior high school. In a way I can say I can connect to the story since it once happened to me too, though it weren’t that worse and nothing like in St. Michael, thank goodness.

As a book, it’s more than good. It’s well written with good plot.

The world forgets easily, and then forgets that it forgot.

I liked the words choices the author chooses. Sometimes it’s beautiful in a brutal way, if it’s even possible. I also like the way the author describe everything in the story. It’s vivid and honest. But there are so many characters I easy to get lost about who is who, though some of main characters are also easy to identify since but he managed to give them specific personalities or physical appearance in one way or the other.

All in all, I didn’t quite enjoy reading it. The characters made me sick and angry. However, it’s a good book about brutal story and I liked the way it’s written. My reviews are mostly about my subjective thoughts and my rating is based on how I enjoy and like the books. But I think in this case, I should think it differently.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars



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