Review Detail

Cliche and Trite
Overall rating 
 
2.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
2.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
3.0
After an intense month of reading novels with intercultural themes, I thought a break, in the form of chick lit might be warranted. Turns out, I don’t always have smart ideas. In my second week of delving into light reading, I’m already flipping pages just to get to the end of another dang book. This time my reading adventures led me to Dork Diaries by Rachel Russell, which I checked out because it was being touted as the girls’ equivalent to the Wimpy Kid series. The latter I am proud to share with my students. As for Dork Diaries, the first book in the series was such a bore that I won’t be reading any further.

The first reason I don’t like Dork Diariess is the paint-by-numbers plot. It’s all about Nikki, who wants to be popular but is a dork. She desperately wants to be asked out by cute-guy Brandon, but thinks he is unaware of her existence. And oh, by the way, mean-girl Mackenzie hates Nikki’s guts. If you think this plot sounds anything like Baby Mouse, which I reviewed last week, give yourself a pat on the back. If you think the plot sounds anything like half the chick-lit books you have read in the last year or in your lifetime, you now know why I was so eager for Dork Diaries to end.

In all fairness, I’ll admit there are some scenes between Nikki and Mackenzie that I halfway liked. For example, there is school Halloween dance. Although it came as no surprise that Mackenzie was voted chairperson for it, she did manage to temporarily shock a few people with her emotional resignation from the position. However, it soon became apparent, when all of Mackenzie’s friends also immediately quit, that she had an evil plan. You see, Mackenzie apparently has rich sponsors that enable her to afford to pay for an extravagant party. Yes, the clichés keep coming. Anyway, while I found this psychotic meanness on Mackenzie’s part over-the-top, I kind of enjoyed watching Nikki and her friends figure out how to save the day. If you think that revelation is a spoiler, I bet you can guess for yourself who asks Nikki to the dance.

The second reason I don’t like Dork Diaries is the main character. Even though author Rachel Russell didn’t exactly write in run-on sentences, I still felt as if as if Nikki would never shut up. Yes, Nikki is the main character and so should narrate the story, but most of the time she just endlessly spews random complaints with no basis in reality. Why does Nikki call herself a dork? She has loyal friends, gets attention from at least one guy, and likes to shop and party. Why does she ever doubt Brandon will ask her out? At the very least, why does she think he’ll ask out Mackenzie? He hangs around with Nikki, talks with Nikki, and acts like Nikki’s friend. Not once does he ever seriously talk to Mackenzie. Last, why does Mackenzie’s life revolve around ridiculing Nikki?

There are chick lit books which I love, such as My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison which differs from Dork Diaries on so many levels. For one thing, the main character gets herself into scrapes of her own making and then gets herself out of them by learning some lessons about sisters, boys, love, and life. As for the Wimpy Kid series, to which the Dork Diaries are compared, Greg might sometimes be a jerk but somehow his life feels a whole lot truer than Nikki’s.
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