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Monday, February 24, 2014

YA Review: The Accidental Genius of Weasel High

Another review! Are you shocked? I'm honestly a little shocked. I'm going to try and start posting a review or a "Things I've Read Recently" post every Monday. So far, I've got one posted, one scheduled, two drafts, and this, so obviously I'm doing awesome!

...let's hope it lasts.

Alright, let's get onto the review!

The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie

Published: January 1st, 2011 by EgmontUSA
Genre: YA Contemporary... but like a hybrid between a regular novel and a graphic novel
Binding: ARC
Page Count: 199
Part of a series? Nope.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Larkin Pace desperately wants a new camcorder. How else is he going to become the next great filmmaker? But his dad won’t give him any money, his sister is determined to make his life miserable, and his nemesis Dalton Cooke is trying to steal his girlfriend. Now this height-challenged aspiring director must chronicle his wacky life for a freshman English assignment.

Review: The tagline of this describes it as "A book for the wimpy kid who has grown into a wimpy teen." I have only read part of one of the Wimpy Kid books* while I was baby-sitting, but what I remember of the book, I tend to agree that they're both for the same kind of audience. A lot of reluctant readers would probably snap this up. And while it's definitely a higher reading level than the Wimpy Kid books, it's a lower-end YA in my opinion. Like I might actually have put it at upper-MG myself and I think it really rides that line, so it would be a great transition book. There's enough text that it would challenge a reluctant reader, but enough illustrations that it might be less overwhelming. It's a good balance.

It's also really freaking funny. The idea of it being a notebook assignment for English class (which I thought it was clever that the teacher called it a blog, good way to make the assignment more interesting for students) works really well. There were seriously times where I sat there giggling to myself. I liked Larkin's voice, I liked the format of the book, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Plot Talk: This is definitely more of a slice of life book than a huge plot book. The biggest plot arc is Larkin's attempt to get a camcorder and the ways he tries to earn money for it. There are some plots that are just odd - but in a way that would really appeal to the audience this is aimed at. They're very hijinksy. Hijinkesque? Which is actually another way that it works as a lower-YA or transition book, because that feels more MG than YA. It's not boring or anything, but it's not hugely plot-driven. It works well, though.

Characters: Larkin is fourteen, claims to be an "accidental genius" (someone who "possesses an awesome talent that happens to be totally useless") because he can remember incredible amounts of details about movies, and wants to be a filmmaker. Occasionally, he is very fourteen, if you know what I mean. He's bad with girls, he has this weird thing about shampoo girls, and he's a little gullible. He sometimes is very much a 14 year old boy and I think he's absolutely relatable and a really fun character.

I also liked Larkin's relationship with his mom, the way it was shown that they had a good relationship and that he actually thinks his mom is cool and funny. Throughout the book, his relationship with his dad develops, slowly but steadily, and it's nice that it shows that while they love each other, they aren't the closest they could be at the beginning of the book, and how that changes.

His sister Kelly is a pretty typical "older sibling". Spoiled and kind of annoying. They spend most of the book fighting and teasing each other, and it would have been nice to have a moment where they bonded. But, you know, sometimes that just doesn't happen.

One other thing I thought was really cute was Larkin's friendship with "Miss Sadie", the neighbour he did chores with to earn money for his camcorder. There were a lot of really funny moments that came out of it, and it was just a nice thing.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: There was a little bit of fat-shaming that annoyed me. I also wasn't fond of the way Larkin reacted when he found out his "rival" had his hair dyed, making a big deal of it being "like a woman", and I was glad when his friend Brooke didn't care and was also somewhat annoyed at him. In general, I didn't like Larkin's attitude towards Brooke when he found out she wasn't interested in dating him. I mean, from her point of view? Her best friend basically stopped talked to her for no reason that she knew, kissed her, then got mad when she said she didn't like him that way. I understand rejection is hard, but that kind of attitude sucks and I was really glad that, while they rekindled their friendship, they didn't end up dating.

PG-13 stuff: The back of my ARC says ages 12 and up and I think that'd be fine, maybe even a little younger depending on the kid. It's a pretty tame book, nothing much for language or anything.

Cover comments: I like the cover! I like the "sneak peek" aspect for the strips inside and I think it's approachable and wouldn't completely embarrass certain kids who don't want to be seen reading "girly" books. (Which I have lots of feelings about that I won't get into right now.) It's neat.

Conclusion: This was a good book. I laughed a lot reading it, I liked the characters, I liked the style of the illustrations, and in general, I thought it just worked really well. I think a lot of kids would really like it and I liked it as an adult. Four out of five roses.

*So, fun fact, Wimpy Kid started on this website called FunBrain. When I was in 7th grade, that was one of the websites we were suggested to play on during spare time in computer class. I think I might actually vaguely remember the original form of it.

So I think that's everything! Have you read The Accidental Genius of Weasel High? What did you think?

Peace and cookies,

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