Posted by Venus on Monday, June 16, 2014
Labels: intermediate book review
Illustrations by Andy Rash
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Pete Watson is a bit video game obsessed. When he doesn't have enough money to buy a new video game, he quickly grabs some junk from around the house and has an impromptu yard sale. What he can't know is that his dad is not only a super-spy, but he has also been kidnapped and is now trapped inside the very video game that Pete sold at his yard sale.
Pete Watson is the kind of character that a lot of boys will be able to relate to. Heedless, headstrong, video game obsessed, with a love of comics this book felt like a sure winner. I wanted to enjoy this, I wanted to be sucked into this middle-grade spy thriller, but instead I just felt old. I know the Wimpy Kid crowd is going to love this, yet I couldn't.
Even though his mother has proven she is good for her money with her IOUs, Pete decides that his video game is so important that he decides to sell things that belong to his parents. Of course, the grown up in me really balked at this, but I took a deep breath and read on. Next comes the adventure where Pete's father is apparently a secret agent stuck inside a video game. This is where the story just felt like something that is completely in Pete's head. In fact, that was what I was expecting. The plot was so ridiculous that I thought, given the unreliable first-person trope, that Pete would reveal that he made the entire thing up. He didn't, which just made the story more ridiculous. A younger readership may not care, but then again I think children are very discerning, I can't help but wonder if they will let this fly.
Pete boasts about the digital version of this book and how it will be interactive, which made me wonder if the publishers would be able to make an actual eBook seeing as it would really need to deliver on its promise. Obviously, with its illustrations and goofy characters, we are aiming for a certain age group, but it isn't nearly as successful as some other books out there in this genre.