Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After (#8) by Rachel Renée Russell


Isabelle has been reading books from this series on and off for a while now. She's not super into them, so I haven't felt compelled to keep reading them with her. I had a little bit of time this week, so I thought I'd read this one while she had it checked out from the library.

In many ways, my reaction to this book is the same as it was to the first book. I really, really dislike the way Nikki refuses to take responsibility for her own actions. She is constantly blaming other people for her own problems. She carelessly threw her jacket onto a messy kitchen table, and then she blamed her sister when the mess from the kitchen ended up on her outfit by way of the jacket. There is too much emphasis put on appearances, I don't like the insults that Nikki throws at both her sister and Mackenzie, and I just don't like the way Nikki obsesses over Mackenzie. Mackenzie's a jerk, I get it, but then why waste so much time and energy on her? I just don't think young girls need that kind of example for behavior. If you don't get along with someone, just ignore them, don't waste your energy hating them.

What I did like about this particular book was that it presented a case of "bad days happen to everybody". I think the intended audience is likely to include girls who might feel embarrassed from time to time for one reason or another. By showcasing a really bad day that included a really embarrassing situation, the opening scenes of this book normalize - in a small way - the idea that bad things happen, and it's really not the end of the world, even if it feels like it is.

Unfortunately, this book is probably not the best one on which to judge the series as a whole. Just as the story was getting good, Nikki got knocked out in gym class. The bulk of the book is about the crazy, mixed-up fairy tale adventure Nikki had in her mind while lying unconscious on the gym floor. I actually think the story made for a good example of creative writing, but it went on just a bit too long. It was fun for a while, but I wonder if true fans of the series resented it as a distraction, since the book doesn't in any way move forward the story of the actual characters of Nikki and her friends and classmates.

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