Download : Underdogs [Hardcover] by Markus Zusak

Who will like this book? Fans of Zusak, for one. And boys. The protagonist, Cameron Wolfe, is a winsome kid, tough but sensitive, with two older brothers he worships (especially Ruben, who is an accomplished fighter and playboy) and a sister who tries to help steer him through the shoals of life. The plots and the writing style are much simpler than THE BOOK THIEF. Here you will find lots of one-sentence paragraphs, for instance, and dialogue filled with colorful Australian expressions.

It's the character that carries the day, however. Zusak's no doubt autobiographical Cam is charismatic in his lonesome cheerfulness as the runt of the family. Plots are secondary to his coming-of-age travails.

And he wants to be a writer (of all things). Each chapter, then, ends with glimpses into Cam's notebook -- commentary, usually, on the narrative unfolding around it. As for liking one book more than the other, it's of little import here. For me, the plot lines practically blend into one big book, making this packaging especially appropriate.

Yes, the middle novel focuses on Cam and Rube's boxing schemes for money, while the last novel centers on Cam's need -- craving -- for female companionship, but it's all one. The protagonist is the draw here. If you don't like him, you won't care for the book. Just do not come here looking for BOOK THIEF-style sophistication. This is a younger, rawer book. This is Zusak the Apprentice, where you can see the glimmers of future fame.