Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review - Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom (Frazzled #1)
by Booki Vivat
Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 240
Format: e-book
Source: library

Meet Abbie Wu! She’s about to start middle school and she’s totally in crisis.

Abbie Wu is in crisis—and not just because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because the lunch ladies at school are totally corrupt or because everyone seems to have a “Thing” except her. Abbie Wu is in crisis always.

Heavily illustrated and embarrassingly honest, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is, where she belongs, and how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up. With Abbie’s flair for the dramatic and natural tendency to freak out, middle school has never seemed so nerve-racking!

Packed with hilarious black-and-white illustrations and doodles throughout, Frazzled takes readers through Abbie Wu’s hysterical middle school adventures.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I started it. After all, I can't really relate to the middle school experience. I seem to have missed it! When I was in fifth grade, the K-6 school I attended made some changes that would see the sixth graders at the junior high (originally 7-8) the next year. But then I moved over the summer... to a place where elementary school was K-7. I should've gone into junior high (8-10) after that, but the year I finished grade seven, the schools combined the junior and senior highs (8-12), dumping us poor grade eights at the bottom of a very tall ladder. We endured a year of listening to the chants of, "Grade eights suck!" at every single assembly, in front of all the teachers (this was in the days before anyone cared much about bullying), and when we finally made it to grade nine, we thought the worst was over. Nope. "Grade nines suck!" echoed through the first assembly of the year.

It kind of reminded me of what happened to Abbie in this book. For whatever reason, the eighth graders at her middle school felt threatened by the incoming younger students, and took out their frustrations in the only way that was permissible: by making lunch miserable for anyone below the eighth grade. So... this is completely unrealistic (you can't tell me that you wouldn't have at least one irate parent calling in about the underhanded bullying by the older kids and the lunch ladies, which basically forced the younger kids to eat crap), but it was kind of necessary to drive the story, which revolves around Abbie finding her Thing.

I wasn't crazy about Abbie at all points during the story, but it was mostly where she felt contrived that I didn't like her as much. She whines about ending up in Study Hall for her elective, but her refusing to choose an elective is what put her there in the first place! (Of course, she needs to be in Study Hall so that she can find her Thing, so I get why it was done. Still, I didn't enjoy reading about someone complain, when she was only in that situation because of her own choices.)

The artwork kind of grew on me. At first, I thought it was too simple. I mean, it looked a lot like the doodles in my own notebooks from school! But I think it really worked here because the illustrations looked like something a middle-schooler might have scrawled during a particularly boring class.

This book would probably be enjoyed more by people who are in the midst of (or who have had) a middle-school experience, but even without that perspective, I still enjoyed it. Although the story was a bit light on plot, I liked the characters and the tone. I think I might like reading more about Abbie Wu and her melodramatic observations about the Middles.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustration: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3.63 out of 5 ladybugs

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