Teacher's Pest: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School by Charles Gilman
|Teachers Pest: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School by Charles Gilman|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: The third in this series has the most distinctive flavour of any so far, but not quite the narrative strength to go with it.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 176||Date: May 2013|
|Publisher: Quirk Books|
Lovecraft Middle School has been found to be full of other things in the past. Book one in this series had the ultra-modern campus plagued by rats, including a two-headed example that somehow became our hero Robert's pet. We have since found the whole thing is also full of portals into a nightmarish underworld, ghosts of a mansion where a mad scientist was dredging up hell. Now the school is full of something else – insects. Flies and other bugs are all over, people are getting bad haircuts due to head lice left, right and centre, and Robert's best friend Glenn might have suffered a most peculiar wasp sting. Would it have anything to do with the particular nature of the hellish beast that has just won presidency of the student council?
At the third attempt this book has managed what the previous two did not quite manage – an overarching mood due to the evil and monsters featured in it. The first had a great deal of mystery, which was why I was able to flag this series up as one to watch. The second had a good mix of High School stereotype and nasties. This third has thought much more of those nasties, and of how the School and the audience could be plagued by itchy, scratchy, skin-crawling bugs, and left other imaginative monsters for elsewhere.
But while there is a mood and a specific colour to the book courtesy of that concentration (in both senses), there is a lack of a different sort. Beyond the worry that Glenn has gone awry, and the mysteries of how and why the insects are there and what they're for, there is not a huge amount to the plot. It zips along nicely, as usual, but it doesn't have the depth to it of prior volumes. The story cannot take full flight, but instead sticks to one element where others had included more. The peculiar insect threat is intriguing, but it doesn't amount to much, and the evil scientist in the other, parallel world is very conspicuous by his absence.
Still, there is probably enough throttle applied to the narrative to appeal once again to the primary schooler in the audience. The characters are firmly established by now, and defined very loosely – although one does show too much ingenuity at a key moment. What Gilman proves is that he knows how to begin a story, and how to finish it, for the conclusion here invites us to go way beyond what at one time was due to end with this initial trilogy. I wouldn't be averse to being on that journey, especially if Gilman can prove he can provide the complete middle this fails to provide.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy. We also have a review of book four in the series.
The middle book of the series so far was The Slither Sisters. You might also appreciate Lousy Thinking: Hitching a Ride on a Schoolboy's Mind by Mike Davies.
You can read more book reviews or buy Teacher's Pest: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School by Charles Gilman at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Teacher's Pest: Tales from Lovecraft Middle School by Charles Gilman at Amazon.com.
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