I could have lived with the poor character development (just barely). I could have lived with the innumerable improbabilities going on. I could have even lived with Dan's profound immaturity for a boy of eleven. But I *really* could not live with the mean-spiritedness in this book. I don't think I've ever read a book aimed at older elementary/younger middle school kids in which everyone was so nasty to one another! There is often a bully or two in kids books at this level, and that's fine. We can't have sweetness and fluffiness all the time because life is not like that, and kids at this age know that. Unfortunately, every
character in this book was name-calling, hitting, and even trying to kill the other people in the book! One *adult* in the story said to our eleven year old hero, "Sorry about the bomb, I should have beat you up myself." WHAT?!? In what circumstance is that ok?!
Maybe I'm just being over-sensitive, but in a day and age when schools are actively trying to teach kids about how bad bullying actually is, it *really* surprises me that Scholastic would put out something like this! I'm sorry that my niece is reading this thing, and I'm sorry that she likes it. But I'm glad she's challenging herself to read something that's above her reading level, and I know that she knows right from wrong. I won't censor her reading. Instead, when she's done with the book we can now have an informed conversation about it.