The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell

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The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell

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Buy The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The start of a new series, that may well seem like two books in one – either way, the resulting volume is all fine and dandy.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781471144622

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We start this book introducing us to Max Crumbly in the dark. Literally – I don't mean as regards knowing very little about him and it. It's clearly a diary-styled, heavily pictorial, light read for a young audience, but we're in the dark as regards Max because he is in the dark. School bully Thug Thurston has locked him in his locker, and he's scribbling a goodbye to the world in his journal, with the help of a handy pocket torch. Over an extended flashback – a flashback that would never really work otherwise in a diary-styled book – we see more of who Max is. He's buddy to the boyf of Nikki Maxwell from this author's other series, and is a friendless yet cool chap at his middle school, which he's riding out – complete with Thug – because the alternative is his gran's version of home-schooling, which is much worse. But when the locker, official notes of his attending late, and problems with classroom beauty Erin all conspire to make Max hate school even more, you might just expect him to change his mind. But events here will more than make up his resolve…

This book, to put it bluntly, surprised me. And not only have I read everything this author has put out, but too many of this format of books than is healthy for a spreading, middle-aged, childless male. But it still surprised me. The first chunk – the extended flashback – is great, and definitely on Ms Russell's home territory, of school nasties, the joy of friendship when it's to be found, and a welter of social faux pas that only too easily come before said friends. But, just when I felt we were seeing too much of the inside of the locker, the book – and clearly the whole franchise this is defined as launching – takes a major turn. But even then the whole thing surprised me, as the real nature of the book resolved itself in the last few pages. I won't say more – I'm giving nothing away to say this was a very different beast to what I expected, but the whole switch was done in a perfectly reasonable, logical and coherent way, so that I really did appreciate the craft here.

Before then the craft had shown itself – the gentle, subtle switch from first person present tense to past tense as the farewell note gets abandoned and Max uses his journal for other reasons. The visual side is still strong, as the pictures are once more fine (although the cartoonish style doesn't really do adults perfectly well). It did strike me that things looked a little wordier than the 'SQUEEE!!'-heavy Nikki Maxwell books, and could have done with some very minor edits here and there to shave off a few words, although the read is once more on the very breezy side – in fact the major change is the affect of writing something, sometimes full paragraphs, then formatting it with a line through as if Max has tempered his words to make them less incriminating. There's one kind of catchphrase forming, but already Max seems like a guy that would be great company for a discerning young person's reading time. And I need to know where he buys his flashlights, for they sure do last.

But what would the nature of that reader be? The other series in this universe, with its pink and purple covers and spangly, glittery designs, is definitely geared towards girls. Here we get a not-quite-genderless pale blue, but I'm sure, as is the way of things, young ladies will be able to snatch this up, and read based on its own merits, in a way that lads find themselves unable to, hindered in going the other way by the colour-coding too many books bear. That means, surely, both genders would feel free to turn to this franchise and enjoy it. But that's not the only reason why I expect sales of this to be on the large side. That boils down to me having enjoyed it a lot, and it proving to be, with this author's nous shining redolently, one of the strongest launch titles for a new series for a long time. It's just right on so many levels.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The sister series can be found in all its glory here.

Buy The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.com.

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