The short: 4/5 ✦. Another incredibly funny installment in the incredibly funny Wimpy Kid series (though the back blurb is a little misleading!).
These books are hilarious.
I don’t actually own any, I’ve just borrowed them from my sister. I think I read the first five in one memorable afternoon, and after that, it’s become a tradition for me to buy her the newly released one as a Christmas present. This year was Old School, the tenth in the series (and the last? reports are conflicting).
Now, I practically died laughing at the previous one, The Long Haul. Like, full-on belly laughs that frightened the dog as we lounged on the couch. This one? Eh, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very funny, but it only elicited a few out-loud chuckles. I think it was in part because the back description is misleading. It makes it seem like the book is about the entire town abandoning electronics and how Greg and other kids will have to deal with that, and that does happen – but only for two days. I don’t think Kinney has any control over what is advertised about his books, so it’s not his fault, but it does mess with one’s expectations.
Most of the novel, however, is indeed about the “old school” way of life, and Greg takes a somewhat refreshing middle-ground view of it: those “good ol’ days” weren’t always so great, but modern life has its flaws, too. This idea is of course explored in its extremes, especially his mom being the one to petition for the two “no electronics” days and yet breaking her own rule when she thought her son was in danger. There’s lots of funny little ironies like this throughout, which is a big part of why these books work so well. Greg isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, but much like Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes, his wise observations make the humor.
I’ll be sad if this is the last Wimpy Kid book, mostly because I honestly do think they have the potential to keep on going, but also I feel this isn’t the best one to end on. If there is to be more, it’ll probably be with Greg finally graduating middle school!
Header image: Old School by Jeff Kinney, published November 3rd 2015 by Amulet Books.