Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth by Anthony BreznicanBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Published by Macmillan on 6/10/2014
Source: BE Books Consulting
Pages: 416
Buy from IndieBound


On the day students and staff at St. Michael’s High School should be impressing the visiting prospective students, Colin “Clink” Vickler sets off a chain of events as he begins hauling glasses of preserved animals off the building’s roof. Over the course of the next year, a circle of freshman who witnessed Clink’s violent outcry attempt to navigate the brutal waters of St. Michael’s and work together to break down its perpetually ignored hazing system.

Breznican populates St. Michael’s with wonderfully flawed characters full of layers that take the course of the story to be revealed. But as the novel expands from the brilliance of its opening sequence, the sheer number of personalities makes it difficult to stay invested in one before abruptly shifting to another. Despite my interest in Brutal Youth‘s plot, I regularly found myself wishing I could combine the close lens of its first pages with the great character development demonstrated throughout.

Still, Breznican is extremely successful in crafting a story that will spark discussion and open dialogue, which would make it a great pick for book clubs. There’s much to turn over regarding the prevalence of bullying, it’s impact, and how school culture itself has changed since the novel’s early 90’s setting. In Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican dives deep into the darkest corners of high school life and reappears with an intriguing tale well worth checking out.


  • Anything set in a boarding school works for me, so you know i have to read this.

  • I suppose you can never go wrong portraying high school as hell. I’m not sure about this one, though . . .Certainly a perfect title and an evocative cover.

  • I’m sorry this one was disappointing! I love novels set in schools, but it drives me crazy when there are too many underdeveloped characters and they all start to merge together in my head. Sounds like that may have happened here….

    • Yeah, I think that Breznican is a really great writer and can actually develop characters really well…it seemed like he wanted to take on a few too many, though, and ended up having a few of them suffer.

  • Hmm, this sounds like a really intriguing book. It sounds really well crafted, but I think I would also be frustrated with the frequent character shifts.

  • Yep, I think we had some of the same issues, though I think you worded them much better! LOL

    • I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pinpoint what was nagging at me, but man I did love that first section!

  • Stephen King blurbed this. I have to check it out now, just because…

  • Asheley (BookwormAsheley)

    I’m so enamored by this cover. Wow.

  • The themes of the book are very appealing, although I think I would also be frustrated by the characters changing so often.

    • Yeah, I think it was just a very large cast of characters and I wanted it to be a bit more focused. If it seems like something you might like, it could be worth a shot!

  • Words for Worms

    I finished this earlier this week and you’re right, it’s a BRILLIANT book club pick, even if it wasn’t my favorite. A lot of rich discussion material, to be sure.

  • You are so right about the opening sequence. It was incredible. I did find myself wanting more of THAT, but I really enjoyed this one. It was different than my usual fare and it sucked me in ;)

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