by Ashley Adum
In September, I made it my mission to complete the book assigned from my local book club, and on the premise of the book, I thought it was going to be easy. On completing it over a month later, I realized I was really wrong. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero on the surface seemed very appealing considering the genres I typically read. I’ve always been a fan of taking loved material from the past (see: Wicked or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and putting a weird or fun spin on it, but this did neither of those things.
I’m not a fan of giving bad reviews, so don’t expect this to bash the book. Besides, I didn’t outright hate it. There were also a few moments where I thought the writing was clever, but they were very, very few. Probably, my biggest problem with this book was how it was written. I understand Cantero has only written two books in English, and he might be used to a different composition standard; so, I don’t really hold him too accountable here. Also, I really understand that this might be more preferences than anything. That being said when the writing style consistently swaps from typical novel prose to something you would see in a playscript, it seriously rubs me the wrong way.
There was also the constant head swapping. If this book was in any voice, I would say first-third person. Meaning it was in third person from a specific character’s point of view. But that character swapped whenever the author felt it relevant, and it could make the story and dialogue really choppy and hard to follow. Also, I really didn’t understand why it ever strayed from the main character's, Andy, POV, if it was never going to flesh out the other minds the way it did hers.
Speaking of Andy: she had the most forced love, or whatever you want to call it, story. When I say forced, I don’t just mean this story was unnecessary, even though it really was, I mean she had been harboring feelings for 13 years for her best friend, who had no inclination of returning them in the same way. However, because Andy and her friend were so broken from past traumas they were both willing to use each other for as far as they could get.
If the writing actually cared to flesh this out beyond, “Hey, I love you,”and, “I love you, too, but just as a friend that can act as a warm body,” maybe I wouldn't have been so annoyed. Not too mention that there never felt like anything deep was being created here, and yet it dragged out the first third of the book. Then when you think they are finally going to focus on the acutal mystery, it would rear its head once again to have a really pointless and unrelated conversation. I guess if this is just the first installment, I could see it being the groundwork for something, but that something looks like it’s going to be toxic and just more damage for the characters’ psyches.
I think what bugged me the most about the supposed love story taking place was that I went into this book expecting a monster mystery—real or fake I didn’t care. Not only was the monster story real, but it played up to the tropes of one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. Unfortunately, like the other areas the author tried to touch on, the acutal mystery was weakly told. When the characters did finally start investigating, it was still minimally embraced. This gave little room to build a true mystery or start developing a mastermind behind it all.
The eventual villain, or joker-esque character, of the piece did turn out to be very charismatic. However, the climax was so boring and really disappointing that they felt wasted. But again, I see room for building something if this was just the groundwork.
Now, because I do want to go out on a high note. Tim and the penguin were absolutely adorable. I appreciated that we heard his thoughts even if he didn’t speak, and as I don’t think I’ll continue reading this series if it fleshes out into one, I’ll just pretend the very ending didn’t happen because it was too much. Also, I did appreciate how every (or nearly every) place was an allusion, and not solely to references from Scooby Doo. It made the little dork within me happy.
Overall, I wanted to love this so I pushed on with reading it, but in the end, it just didn’t happen. I won’t say I hated or disliked it, and that’s why I gave it 3 out of 5 on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m sure it has an audience out there, it just wasn’t me.
Posted in Reviews & Opinions on Oct 23, 2017, by Ashley Adum
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Book review of Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.
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