Ive read a couple of Handlers Lemony Snicket books, and thought they were mildly amusing. Said coworker assured me that this book was much better and she was right!
I would highly recommend Basic Eight for anyone who was a fan of Heathers very similar themes, similar brand of dark humor but updated and more-than-timely.
The book is told through the diary of Flannery Culp, who is re-writing said diary, a year after the significant events, from the confines of an institution. (The reader knows shes guilty look at her name, after all!) The device makes for a very interesting unreliable narrator but the best part of the book isnt Flans tale of her highschool clique and how she wound up becoming infamous, but Handlers deftly pointed satire, as he shows the absurdity of how teachers, authority figures, and the media and self-help gurus (like Winnie Moprah) take problems and run in the completely wrong direction with them, babbling about cults and Satanism instead of actually addressing real problems. It is a funny book, but its also terribly sad in its accuracy.
Should be required highschool reading not only for students but for faculty!
Funny enough in spots, but I found it a bit gimmicky by the end.
**this review contains spoilers**
Let's start off with some of the positives. The writing in this book is great--same dry, clever wit we saw in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The characters and their development are second to none. Handler has the ability to create extraordinarily rich characters. The format is also an appealing aspect--being told from the future and written as a personal journal, with fake essay questions and vocabulary words in each chapter. Unfortunately, despite its many positive qualities, the book did the one cringe-worthy thing I was dreading: a multiple personality plot twist. Really?! Handler is capable of so much better. The entire time I was reading this book, I was so excited, but in the back of my mind, kept thinking that the one thing that would ruin it would be if Natasha and Flan were the same person. What a disappointment. And let's not even get into the mental health implications here. Way to promote a dangerous stereotype. I want to love this book so badly. I want to pretend the ending never happened. How can one small thing have such a profoundly negative impact on what was, up to that point, a great novel? I would love to see Handler try his hand at a similar novel, one that's less problematic and less of a cop-out but in a similar setting.
I was unable to finish this book.
Vocabulary: ANGST VENGEANCE SCARECELY REQUITED PANACHE
If a boy is messing with your head, it is ok to pummel HIS head? Right?