Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good month in the life type story
Cons: Most characters a little flat
The Bottom Line:
Preparing for laughs
Dealing with serious school
All within this book
The Next Joke in the Life of Jamie Grimm
I seem to be reading collaborations because of the lesser known coauthor. There are several series out there I do that with, and one of them is this middle grade series from James Patterson. I'm a marginal Patterson fan on his best days, but I love the novels of co-author Chris Grabenstein. I Even Funnier is their second book together in this series, and I liked it.
The series look at Jamie Grimm, a middle schooler who has had a harsh life. He's living in a wheel chair and living with his uncle and aunt. However, he's learning to make the best of a very bad situation through humor at the encouragement of his other uncle. The first book found him entering a local contest for stand up comic kids.
This book follows Jamie Grimm as he takes the next step in the Planet's Funniest Kid Contest. Having won his state, regionals are coming up in
Boston, and Jamie has to prepare all new
material. But that's not the only thing
he has to contend with. Being a middle
schooler, he still has to contend with tests, homework, figuring out girls, the
other comedian in school (whose jokes are old and painfully unfunny), and
tutoring the class bully, aka his cousin Stevie.
To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the first in the series, so I got this one from the library. I was surprised at just how much more I enjoyed it. (Maybe the price had something to do with that?) The characters are still a little shallow here. It's not that they are completely flat, but they just never fully come alive. Fortunately, Jamie does, so when something happens that affects him, you feel it. Heck, I found myself tearing up a time or two as I was reading.
My bigger issue with the first was the plot. It felt like story lines were introduced and then rushed or dropped. Maybe I was just ready for it this time, but I saw the book as more of what it was - a couple of months in the life of Jamie while he prepares for the next round of competition. That's not to say that the plotting was better, but when a sub-plot ended early, I recognized it as being part of real life.
If you are looking for laugh out loud jokes in this book, you will probably be disappointed. Yes, there are jokes and humor, but Jamie spends more time telling us what his jokes are about than actually telling us his jokes. And there are plenty of cheesy groaners from his rival at school (although I found them plenty funny). I certainly enjoyed the humor there was.
Laura Park does the illustrations in the novel, and there are plenty of them. They provide some of the humor, and I enjoyed them.
Because of Patterson's famous short chapters and the illustrations, this is a very fast read. Even reluctant readers will find themselves zooming through the story, which is a good thing.