I know I set the world on fire with my last review. I covered Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I called it bad.
Twilight level of bad.
I needed some time to cool off and find a book in a similar genre that
was actually good, which took a long time. So much time, that I actually
gave up and moved onto other titles that I would personally recommend:
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, Little House in the
Woods, and one I'm working on right now: Eragon. (Hear that, Zack? I
cracked from boredom and finally gave into your wish!)
so many other titles mixed in, I eventually forgot my quest for finding
a new title and went on with my standard reading selection. Well, I
would of, anyway, if I didn't notice a peculiar-looking title on the
Juvenile Fiction shelf at the Highland branch. I picked it up, read it,
liked it a lot, and then it reminded me a lot of Wimpy Kid's genre, so I
decided to review. So, what book was it?
The book has what is probably the best title for any piece of fiction. It is called, and I quote, it is called, AND I QUOTE...
"Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading"
Wow. When you have a title like that, what could possibly go wrong?
Guide to Not Reading (I can't take that title seriously, it's so
hypocritical.) is just another title in the tsunami of Middle School
stories right now: Simple tale, just like every other book about a
depressed grade school boy, but with a twist. Charlie Joe is our main
character and narrator for the tale, but he hates books. No, I mean
hates them a lot. So much so, that he gets his best friend Tim to read
any assigned schools books for him in exchange for cafeteria food.
with such a special twist, you can expect a lot from this book, and it
truly delivers! I would cover the bits and pieces of the book in detail,
but that would ruin the story, and TRUST ME. DON'T. SPOIL. THE. STORY.
With story out of the way, I would like to take a moment to reflect on why this book excels over the Wimpy Kid formula.
thing it gets right is the main character, Charlie Joe Jackson. Greg
Heffley was a terrible character because the book kept trying to
encourage you that he was the only nice person in the story, which was
contradictory to the way he actually acted. On the other hand, The Guide
to Not Reading makes 101% emphasis on how Charlie Joe is such a
ridiculous person by his hatred of reading. This aspect is reinforced so
good that the book contains little snippets inbetween explaining why
Charlie Joe thinks reading is bad. It's hilarious stuff, with the best
in the entire book being a mini-segment where Charlie Joe says that
people that read need glasses because the small words hurt their eyes!
That's comedy gold!
Speaking of little snippets, the sour
disposition Charlie Joe has towards reading is reflected from the
chapters. Each one is only a page or two long, and all of the long ones
are followed up by little notes from Charlie Joe(the narrator, reminder
to you) saying that he'll make sure that the next chapters are smaller.
Seriously, the writing for this book is as good as the stuff in early
Spongebob, and you want to know how good early Spongebob is?
That's how good it is.
final thing that The Guide to Not Reading excels in over Wimpy Kid and
all of that series is the cast. All of the other characters are fleshed
out like needed, and while this is a common staple to ANY book, I can't
even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to read a book that takes a
pre-existing formula and adds the finishing touch right on key. All of
these characters are specifically designed to counter-balance Charlie
Joe's personality, and as such, it helps make the book feel like a
community I can connect to.
Bottom line, if you want a
book that will truly make you laugh, read this title. It gets so much
right, that all it needs to do is be funny. Yes, there are a few little
things here and there that ruin the book, but I can't really say
anything about those issues without spoiling the book, so I'll end on
this note: Read "Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading." It's
"How romantic, you smell of freshly puked apples." Lily W.
This was Lily's reaction at discovering that in one of the versions of Snow White, the prince wakes the princess, not with a kiss, but by jostling a bite of the poisoned apple from her throat.
Here is a handy link to the Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. Professor D. L. Ashliman created it when he was at the University of Pittsburgh. Here is a link to his translations of a bunch of different versions of the Snow White story so you can compare them yourself!
This was at our book discussion of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman on 5/6/15.