A three-in-one volume binds together Zusak’s two later books about Cameron with his first, paradoxically the last to appear in the United States.
Before the prize fights of Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001) and the complications with Octavia in Getting the Girl (2003), Cameron and Ruben Wolfe were plotting to rob dentists and exact revenge on their sister Sarah’s ex-boyfriend while their mother continually cooked sausage and mushrooms in tomato sauce for meals. Attempting to break free from the monotony of his family, Cameron begins working with his father on plumbing jobs and meets Rebecca Conlon in the process. While Cameron’s failed to engage in life so far, could Rebecca be the first reason to reach out? With this compilation release of The Underdog, the rough-and-tumble adventures of the Wolfe brothers are finally all assembled. Zusak’s stunning use of language and rich character development are present, while the introduction of the family framework provides additional understanding for the sibling dynamic in the later stories. It’s a treat to see Cameron’s visions, which will develop into stories in later chapters, especially since the author brings such a strong sense of frustration and despair to those insights.
Appealing to fans and providing an entry point for fresh readers, this is a much-appreciated addition to the Wolfe brothers’ canon. (Fiction. 12 & up)