Saturday, September 3, 2011

Darth Paper Strikes Back

Origami Yoda returns. He was first introduced to the world in The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (my review) wherein he wowed the sixth graders of McQuarrie Middle School with his sage advice causing them to actually have fun at a school Fun Night. Except all the students weren't having fun. Harvey was angry. Harvey was bitter. If he had asked Origami Yoda for advice he might have heard, "Let go of your anger you must. Lead to the Dark Side it will." But Harvey didn't ask Origami Yoda for advice and Darth Paper was born just in time to throw a wrench into the awesomeness that should have been seventh grade.

When I learned Tom Angleberger was writing Darth Paper Strikes Back I was nervous. The first book was so unique and inventive I couldn't imagine that a sequel would live up to it. I grew more concerned as I read the first few chapters which repeated the same information. Also Harvey was annoying me by the end of chapter one. Score for Angleberger on that count. He made the "villain" truly unlikable. After that the story picked up and became more engrossing. It is a different sort of book from the first, a little darker, not as funny. It is still highly amusing, just not side splitting hilarious. The darkness comes from what is riding on the conclusions of this case book. This isn't about whether or not Tommy will get the girl (okay, it's a little about that), but whether or not Dwight will be expelled. Underlying this story is some commentary on the school experience in general and a not so sparkling picture of the public school system. I didn't disagree with these things, but wondered how much the target audience would actually get what was being said. I can see the target audience enjoying the antics of Harvey and Dwight though. And once more being engrossed with the soap opera of daily life in a middle school. Kellan's amusing drawings can again be found scattered throughout the case file.

This is a great book to hand to any kid who enjoys school stories, humorous books, or Star Wars. The Star Wars references in this one are a bit more for actual fans than in the original one. That shouldn't turn off any who don't like Star Wars as there is much more to the story than just that.

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