Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review - 12 Again

12 Again
by Matthew Licht
Date: 2017
Publisher: East of the Web
Reading level: C
Book type: short story
Pages: 8
Format: e-book

Bobby Osgood woke up one October morning and he was twelve years old again...

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This story is actually pretty dreadful. It isn't entertaining, it's a bit racist in places, and it's definitely not for kids.

This is the same author who wrote Jeremy and the Magic Lobster, which I didn't hate. So I thought this story might provide a bit of entertainment. From the very beginning, though, the premise is flawed and the tone is all wrong.

Bobby is supposed to be 32 when he wakes up one morning as his 12-year-old self. But it never seems like we're reading about a grown man in the body of a child. It seems like we're simply reading about a child... and a younger one at that. The emphasis on him thinking how beautiful his mother was just came across as creepy, considering he's almost (or at) puberty; I wouldn't have been as weirded-out by that if he'd been 6 or something. I also wouldn't have been as appalled at his past behaviour toward Becky Raven. We're told that, when he was 12 (for real), he kicked her in the ass so hard he made her cry. Why? Because he had a crush on her. I shouldn't have to explain, in 2019, why this is so inappropriate and shouldn't even be part of a children's story (especially when Becky waves it off and forgives him).

The story couldn't seem to decide what it wanted to be about. Time travel? Maybe. But even then, the premise was all mixed up. Bobby spent the whole story doing things differently the second time around, like making apologies and being nicer to people, but when it came to potentially saving his principal from being killed by drunk pygmy headhunters in the future (the principal liked to travel to "places like Africa and New Guinea", and he was apparently killed during one of these trips), Bobby decided against warning him because he didn't want to mess with the space-time continuum (something he'd learned was important from watching movies). Either you mess with time or you don't... but you can't have it both ways. Or perhaps the story was simply about appreciating your life at the stage you're at, in which case it comes across as condescending and preachy for its intended audience.

For a story that supposedly only takes place 20 years earlier, the whole thing seems weirdly dated. Bobby watches Batman on TV. His mom stays home and makes meatloaf (and is the only person in the whole story whose speech borders on AAVE). Kids play outside without supervision until after dark. Nicknames like "Spaz" are used for the unpopular fat kid. It's apparently perfectly okay for a boy to kick a girl so hard she cries simply because his fragile feelings got hurt. I almost suspect the author is quite a bit older than Bobby Osgood; his childhood sounds more like something from the 1970s than the 2000s.

That's a lot to say about an 8-page story, but there was a lot that was wrong in those 8 pages. The writing was a bit all over the place, too. I certainly wouldn't recommend this one. If you want to check out some of this author's short fiction, I'd recommend Jeremy and the Magic Lobster instead.

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.43 out of 5 ladybugs

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