As seventh grader Samantha Sanderson and the rest of the middle schoolers prepare for the upcoming Spring Fest, “mean girl” Nikki faces the reality that her parents are getting divorced. It’s hard for Samantha to sympathize because of Nikki’s unkind reputation, but when Nikki becomes victim of a string of attacks, Samantha takes it upon herself and her super sleuth abilities to get down to the bottom of the bullying.
A couple of months ago I reviewed a young adult chapter book in hopes that I might send my young niece a well-written, engaging, age-appropriate book. I wanted to send her something that entertained and challenged her while also providing a realistic look at the struggles of a young Christian. I had the same hope when I picked up this book. Sadly, this book didn’t deliver.
The plot isn’t bad – Sam helps Nikki find the bully who’s been harassing her. Sam investigates, even though she doesn’t really like Nikki. They, of course, identify the bully and learn to respect each other. The story includes Christian morals and values, though even Sam stumbles and breaks some rules to find the bully (for which she is punished). I appreciate that it wasn’t a “pray hard enough and get what you want” look at Christianity and that they main character wasn’t perfect.
What really bothered me about the book is the quality of the writing – information dumps, telling, passive writing. Writers are told to avoid these things – it’s bad writing, and it slows down the story. It definitely slowed this story. I found myself skimming pages, more interested in finding out who did it than knowing how the culprit was discovered because I was tired of the interruptions. Even more frustrating than that, however, was how it could happen so many times. It’s frustrating to know that my niece may read multiple examples of info dumping and telling. She’ll write what she reads, and if she reads passive verbs and backstory, she’ll put that in her own stories.
This book really could have captivated my attention with a little bit of editing, but instead I struggled to finish it. I hate having to say it (I’m a fan of Robin Caroll), but I had a hard time reading this one.
*I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”