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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Highly atmospheric and elegantly written, The Brute: A Novel by Mike Klaassen is a young adult novel that is as mesmerizing as it is deeply affecting, exploring a young man’s journey to what really defines him when a tempest hits a campsite. On a prairie camping expedition, the last thing they expect is a tornado, but then a tornado destroys their campsite in the vast Flint Hills of Kansas. The hot-tempered, sixteen-year-old Fortney Curtis is left with old men who can do very little and six younger boys in his care. Against inclement weather, he is the hope of the day. But can he conquer the demon within and save everyone? This is a story of how, faced with adversity, a young man has to look past himself and find the strength to stand up for others.
The Brute is hypnotic, even though the protagonist isn’t your usual well-loved character, but his transformation and journey towards taking responsibility will make any reader root for him. Mike Klaassen’s writing is great, filled with vivid descriptions that explore the emotional and psychological depths of the characters, and with exciting dialogues that move the plot forward. The characters are real and the character arc is well handled, as is the plot structure. The story has an irresistible premise — a group of people stranded on an outing and the only person capable of saving them is condemned by his short temper. The reader will be keen to see how things work out. The Brute: A Novel is quickly paced and dotted with powerful lessons for both young and adult readers, a tale that is entertaining and dramatic.