Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dork Diaries

Even before being chosen to judge for the Cybils, I decided to post reviews of graphic novels on every Tuesday in November, starting with Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell.

This book was loaned to me by a 6th grade neighbor, and it's a book I've been eager to read for awhile. I put it on the Amazon wishlist for my former school, but it never got picked up. After having read it, I'm glad that other books were donated instead of this one. While the format and cover make it seem like a female version of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the reality is that it's a pale imitation.

I think my disappointment lies in the fact that the Wimpy Kid books are genuinely funny, the illustrations look realistic to a (talented) young adult, and the series does not seem to pander to the audience. Dork Diaries contrasts in every way. It feels like it was written by an adult who feels that writing "OMG" and referring to Tyra Banks, "I just LOVE that girl!" will appeal to young girls. Judging by the popularity of the series, maybe it does. Still, I prefer to recommend books with stronger writing, that still contain all the fun slang and even more relevant pop culture references. The illustrations in Dork Diaries are beautiful, but unrealistic for the age level. They also vary in style greatly. I went to the author's website to see if there were multiple illustrators and found that there were. I also noticed that the protagonist's name was misspelled (Nicki instead of Nikki) in several publicity sections of the website. My readers deserve better.

I did enjoy the subplot with Nikki spray painting a found hearing aid to create a fake cell phone. This felt like the most authentic aspect of the story, something that probably happened to someone in the author's life. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel was a let-down. I'm leaving the sequel unread and removing it from the wishlist.

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