The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville by Ben Davis and Mike Lowery
|The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville by Ben Davis and Mike Lowery|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Whatever may have happened since I last visited this series, this entry is clearly stretching things too far.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 320||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: OUP Oxford|
|External links: Author's website|
A lot has happened in the life of our hero Joe since we first met him. A lot must have happened in the third book in the series too, as we start here with him in a very new situation. He's in London, not the Midlands town of his upbringing, and three of his flat-mates and buddies are a band about to be signed by a major label, with him as their ostensible manager. And he's got a new, cosmopolitan girlfriend. But this is a teen diary book full of the comedy of embarrassment, and nothing can ever be expected to go his way…
It's notable that all four British editions so far have the phrase 'too old for Wimpy Kid?' as an enticement on the front cover. And age here is certainly an issue relevant to the book. This is a world where Joe is surrounded by adults with their cocktails and their glasses of wine, but he's not eighteen and is therefore stuck with cola. But it's also important because this book actually ages the hero. Said Wimpy Kid will never leave the year group he's in, or not without much protest, and here is Joe becoming seventeen – not a landmark year for him, but certainly a sign that the series will have a natural conclusion at some point. Surely teens reading these books – and teens they are supposed to be – will not be concerned with a doofus in his thirties?
But the next key issue here is back to that word 'natural'. This Joe has only had wine once, apparently. He's managing a band whose music he never understood, and somehow being given either too much authority or menial jobs by the one man on the staff of the huge record company we're allowed to meet. There was a constant feel of the unrealistic about too much here. There is a quote in the middle of the book where Joe's blog asks something like 'how did we get from A to B', and I thought 'yes, it's called jumping the shark. You might think of it as narrative chutzpah, I think of it as going too far'.
Also going too far was the return of Joe's father, in unlikely circumstances. Yes, he reduces the mildly dislikeable references to Eastern European stereotypes, but he's painfully unfunny to read about, with his bizarre taste for rap music, and dressing and talking like the world's worst wigger. I know that's the joke, but – again, we've come just too far from the first book, where I was able to laud the different sense of humour at play on its pages. It's a better read when his influence is reduced and we get more of the story about the band, and Joe's personal life, but again we didn't really sign on for the former as a subject matter when we started this series – not enough here is principally about Joe's geekdom, when it still could be. There certainly are humorous parts here – oddly, the sustained scene regarding diarrhoea is a highlight – but this may well be where Joe and I part company. This is still a book that's easy to read, but not always one to like, when the first was one I loved.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville by Ben Davis and Mike Lowery at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville by Ben Davis and Mike Lowery at Amazon.com.
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