The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley - Shaun Hutchinson


Genre: YA/Fiction
Synopsis: Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived. Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.


Review: I had hoped I would really enjoy this book, but for some reason it just failed to pull me in. When I put it down, I struggled to recall exactly what was happening when I left off, and found myself not really wanting to pick it up. I wish I could at least put my finger on why it had that effect, because there were things I liked about it. I think maybe they just didn't all gel together with that 'something' that makes a book truly great.

I liked quite a few of the characters, though I felt none of them were really fleshed out. Trevor and Lexi could have had a novel all of their own, and Arnold was probably the most complex but also the most underused character in the novel. I'd like to have known more about Miss Michelle as a person, and I felt the Rusty/Andrew thing was a little too circumstantial - that is to say, the connection is seemingly founded on the fact that they're both troubled gay youths who have had traumatic experiences, moreso than because they actually connect as people in any way. So, I felt like a lot of the characters had great potential and were likeable on the surface, but none of them were developed or compelling enough to really reel me in.

The writing is great, I honestly can't fault that aspect at all. Mostly prose, dotted with the occasional segement of a Patient F comic (the comic being drawn by Andrew himself) - it's an unusual combination and it works really well. Definitely haven't been put off trying more by the author, and I wouldn't tell anyone to avoid this one - I'm sure a lot of people would love it.

Rating: 3/5

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