I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one when I admit that I liked this no better than the first. Publisher’s Weekly promises “A laugh-out loud ‘novel in cartoons’…should keep readers in stitches” and Kirkus Reviews cites this book’s “Unhinging hilarity” but I can’t say as I found it very entertaining.
I do wonder a bit if maybe, just maybe, the language and potty humor wouldn’t grate on me quite so much if I didn’t dislike Greg (the main character) so much. I mean, my nephews have whoopee cushions. I promise you, I do not lecture them or go off in a snit when one appears on my chair. I pretend not to notice, sit down and act horrified and embarrassed as any aunt who has caused a farting noise should. But my nephews aren’t awful people. Greg kind of is. Unsurprisingly, I’m not exactly impressed with his mom and dad’s parenting skills either.
One of the big themes of this book is cheating. Greg hopes to cheat off a smart kid who sits near him. Roderick (Greg’s older brother) doesn’t care about his school work, so the father does his reports for him. Greg finds a way to turn in a report on the same book each year so he never has to read another book. Greg doesn’t do a report because he’s planning on school being cancelled for a snow day. When he finds out the snow will miss them he pays his brother for an old report. Multiple family members pitch in to do Roderick’s science project.
Greg also continues his reign as a really bad friend. When his friend Rowley returns from a vacation Greg tells us “I don’t know if this makes me a bad person or whatever, but it’s hard for me to get interested in other people’s vacations.” Newsflash Greg, yes, if you don’t actually care about anything that happens in your friends’ lives, you are a bad person. Greg also says that he wouldn’t have gone to his best friend’s birthday party if he’d known what it would be like. When another friend appears at school when they’d all thought he was moving away, Greg decides to pretend the child is invisible. He gets the whole grade level to go along with him. And this is a friend. Not someone he doesn’t like. Not a bully. This is how he treats a friend. The principal finally hears of it, but like the principal in the My Weird School series, he disciplines students and follows it up with candy.
I rather expect the rest of the series is more of the same but I honestly can’t bring myself to read numbers 3 and 4 right now. I’m going to need something to clear my head after these. I do first have to admit though, that I did like one part, where Greg writes a completely abysmal made up report about a moose. That was funny. But I’m partial to moose. Mooses. Meese.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – The parents watch romantic comedies and kiss and smooch sounds come from the TV. Greg tells Rowley that his father smells like a woman (I honestly don’t know what that’s supposed to mean!). Rowley sits on something sharp and a cartoon depicts him bending over with his pants down while Greg’s mother apply’s medicine. No crack is shown. When Rowley has a babysitter, Greg goes over to his house because the sitter is pretty. Greg makes a cartoon where the parents are going on a romantic vacation.
Profanity – Again, nothing so bad enough that they’d bleep it on television, but: “jerk” , “stupid”, “dumb”, “screw up”, “heck”, “idiot”, “sissy”, “darn”, “dang”. These are used multiple times throughout.
Bathroom Humor Again there are references to “kissing butt”. Greg’s brother’s band is called LODED DIPER. A kid is teased for having the initials PU. To avoid doing the dishes Roderick goes to the bathroom for an hour after dinner each night and says his body is on a schedule. Greg is supposed to be pet-sitting for a family but lets the dog make it’s messes indoors rather than walking it. This is shown in cartoon form. Roderick puts fake vomit on cars. Roderick is shown spitting milk in Greg’s face. Roderick’s band gets a special effects pedal and makes “farted” repeat using an echo effect. There are multiple references to Greg’s younger brother potty training. It’s hard to figure where the next part goes – either here or in sex, but either way – Greg hides from Roderick in a public restroom, but it turns out he’s in the women’s room, not the men’s room. He gets found out and called a “Peeping Tom”. Roderick circulates the story to embarrass Greg, but the story somehow changes so that it seems like Greg was caught in a high school girl’s locker room, which makes him very cool.
Death, Violence and Gore – There’s plenty of punching. Greg remembers how he was excited to have a little brother: This is shown in cartoon form, where Greg thinks of Roderick kicking him, and imagines himself kicking his little brother. A girl who was voted Most Likely to be a Rock Star is probably in jail according to Greg. A new babysitter of Greg’s friend teaches them a game called Magick and Monsters. In this game, lots of violent things happen – there are cartoons of people getting skewered with arrows, Greg says he’ll light Rowley’s eyebrows with a torch. When Greg plays with Roderick, Roderick says that all Greg’s people fall in a hole with dynamite and get blown up. Roderick and his friends watch horror movies. The three year old baby brother turns on the tv and accidently watches the horror movies. Greg hides a dumbbells under a pillow he knows Rowley will kick causing Rowley to break a toe.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – In the Magick and Monsters game Greg orders mead, knowing it’s a type of beer (this is all imaginary). A lighter is shown in a comic. Roderick throws a party when their parents are out of town. The picture shows bottles and cans everywhere. I suppose some children will interpret these as soda, as they are unlabeled, but some will also interpret these as alcoholic beverages.
Frightening or Intense Things – None