Author: Rachel Renée Russell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
We all know that I’m not a fan of starting a series part way through but I made an exception for Dork Diaries Crush Catastrophe, this is book 12 in the globally bestselling series for tweens which is targeted for an audience from about 9 years old. My teen is a little past Dork Diaries and the boys weren’t really interested but I spent a fun afternoon with the book.
Dork Diaries is laid out a little like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series except it’s written by middle school dork Nikki Maxwell. Crush Catastrophe sees her rushing headlong to the end of the school year and looking forward to exciting summer plans.
I like the layout of diaries because the text is generally well spaced, the fonts are a little out of the ordinary and there are a wealth of illustrations to keep you interested.
I have to admit I was a little sceptical going in because this tween book is all about Nikki Maxwell and her crush Brandon. I still like to think that tweens are a little too young for crushes, but I realise I’m probably deluding myself.
Nikki has a little sister, an exuberant pup, 2 of the greatest BFF’s and Brandon, her good friend and crush. Nikki also has an arch nemesis, popular girl Mackenzie, who really doesn’t like her. I’m not sure of the back-story here but I think sometimes in middle school there are just going to be kids who don’t like you – there doesn’t have to be any logical reason. In fiction you need a nemesis to add conflict to your story, in middle school … well in middle school there’s just sometimes mean kids.
Diaries are a fantastic way to read and I think they can be very good for those who don’t like to read a lot because they are very much a stream of consciousness type genre, you get inside your lead’s head as they pour out their innermost thoughts and feelings in a way they wouldn’t to anyone else; you get to know them better than you can any other way but that does make secondary characters a little less three dimensional because you only see them through the eyes of the diary writer and, generally, in relation to the lead as opposed to off doing their own thing.
Nikki is looking forward to the end of the school year, and her time at middle school. Plans are in full swing for a huge summer with the groundwork being laid in the last few weeks of term. Until plans are thrown out of whack by a student exchange program with Nikki drafted to be an ambassador and host a visiting student for a week.
Dork Diaries is witty and fun, it’s relatable and addresses some of the issues facing kids at school these days. Nikki is faced with a cyber situation that sees her framed into a completely fictional story through the use of creative cropping and photoshop, a situation that is going to create friction with her crush as well as her BFF’s if they see the posts.
The best laid plans always hit stumbling blocks and for Nikki it’s that all her summer plans become possible but scheduling changes mean that instead of running back to back they clash and now she’s faced with the difficult decision of what to do, a decision made trickier by the knowledge that the summer plans of her friends also hinge on her decision.
The layout is great, the illustrations are eye-catching, the font is something a little unusual and the style is fluent. I am wondering whether I should go through again and count the number of times I read OMG or Squee but they certainly fit with the storytelling, and sounded like a tween girl thinking out loud.
I think this will be a definite hit with fans of the Dork Diaries series but it also stands alone convincingly so will be sure to attract a host of new fans if they join the series now.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members and their children will be reading Dork Diaries Crush Catastrophe so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below, and our reviews may be written by our young readers.