When I was young and growing up, I always dreamt of going to school in Canada or the US. However, had this book be around back then, and if I had read it, I would have gladly put that dream to bed...
I came across this book via the glowing comments I was reading on social media. Once intrigued, I connected with the author and then the publisher in the US, who very kindly sent me a hardback copy, internationally! Being impressed did not stop there, as once I opened the box, I saw that Stephen King had written a glowing review on the front cover. Of course you should never judge a book by its (front page review) cover) - no matter who has written it!
Anthony Breznican has written a very dark novel set in a school called St Marks, and it tells the story through the eyes of 3 main characters. Peter, Noah and Lorelei are all students at St Marks, and very complex ones at that. The title of the book Brutal Youth is just that, it is a story that is brutal and youthful. So ok, this is an anti-bullying book, it is but, it is not your usual story about a one-sided bully and his two “henchmen” picking on the weaker students. In this book, even the bullies get bullied; nothing is straight forward and linear here when it comes to your coming of age book.
Brutal Youth is one of those books that you cannot put down, even now, three weeks after finishing it, I still think back to this book, the opening chapter has got to be one of the most engrossing, impacting, action packed, atmospheric and haunting starts to any book I have ever read. This book is deserved of any award it would ever be nominated for. It is like nothing I have ever read before, it is that original and with every page, you are racing to the next. One memorable bit from the book for me was when Peter (Davidek) was picking up coins and then went to buy a tie, for him to come back with something else – it just shows how brilliant Anthony Breznican is as a writer for him to create such a warming vision in your head when reading this part of the book – it shows you the character that Peter is, how he wants to help others, yet for him then to be helped by Noah, once he sees what he did for someone else – (no spoiler to get you to experience the moment yourself when reading this book).
The book itself is dying to be made into a feature film, it would be outstanding to watch, I just hope that someone like David Fincher directs it. It is a dark book and one whose characters are realistic in that they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses, one minute you are liking them, the next you are not. Just like in real life, everyone has their own faults, everyone makes mistakes, no-one is perfect, and Anthony Breznican brings these truths to the forefront with Brutal Youth!
This is an outstanding book, one that will stay with me for a very long time.
10 out of 10
Review by Carl Marsh
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