Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever by Rachel Renee Russell
|Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever by Rachel Renee Russell|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: An eleventh part of this endless soap opera – but one that has a good way with presenting what the addicted reader will demand. Only dismiss, then, if you dislike the idea of a child becoming an addicted reader.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 282||Date: November 2016|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK|
|External links: Author's website|
I was at my locker writing in my diary… Those are the least unexpected words in literature for those who have enjoyed this series before now. Nikki Maxwell does very little but write in her diary, even when it causes her problems. She's at it so much, the instant replay plot summary here is on half a page but covers about the last five books – yes, we really do get that much detail of her life. But make no mistake, the events she describes are momentous ones – and nothing has the power to change her life for the better as much as her nemesis, Mackenzie Hollister, moving to a different school. But what's this? A student school swap programme has put Nikki in that exact same school, and there's a surprising amount hanging in the balance. But surely Nikki can brave Mackenzie for five more school days – and surely that is as bad as it could get?
Fans were very keen on seeing this eleventh novel announced, especially as books nine and ten changed a lot around, and especially as a semi-spin-off series came about at the same time, featuring a friend of Nikki's Squeeeee!! boyf Brandon. I don't know that I shared their enthusiasm, partly because those changes seemed a handy chance for the mother/daughter creative team behind these books to move on. Here, ultimately, however, I could see through the contrived manner in which the two girls are combined again, and enjoy the book for what it once more is – a thoroughly frothy and silly entertainment.
The adult looking at these pages will yet again frown at the use of multiple exclamation marks, and emojis, and blank space, but the ease with which the pages turn, and the illustrations highlighting the correct beats (as opposed to what so many other books do, by presenting the wrong elements), make these books ideal for a certain audience of a certain age. I do think that if any child has been here from the distant start of things they will probably be too old for them by now, and using them as guilty pleasures – certainly they will want more mileage from an early scene when Nikki needlessly turns against her BFFs. The inherent lack of irony on these pages is galling at times, but again it's a testament to the straight-up honesty, accuracy (heaven forbid) and narrative clarity that drives these books.
And despite an ungainly-seeming rush to a seemingly big ending, and there being little in the way of sub-plot, depth or surprise here (and despite there being no issue over the relationship with Brandon that so peppered the earlier books), I can see many people – myself included – being happy with more of the same. I know there's a rule that states the shorter timespan covered by one of these diary books means the smaller the returns, and I can report these 240-odd pages are concerned only with two weeks in the life of Nikki, but this series has an inherent soap-opera quality that is like it or not the main factor in drawing people back time and time again. The fact this volume is early one May and something I alluded to earlier won't happen until August, if at all, means there will be several more books of this guilty pleasure to come.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
If you're running behind with this series, the tenth novel in it was Puppy Love. And while these are completely contemporary, you might welcome the likes of Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson to introduce girls to historical settings.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.com.
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