Diary of a wimpy kid: the meltdown, by Jeff Kinney

Somehow Wimpy Kid became one of my favorite characters, and certainly a constant in my reading life. Every year I wait for the beginning of November to get my hands on the new volume of Greg Heffley’s misfortunes. And I’m not the only one. My library used to purchase up to 10 copies of each Wimpy Kid book, none of which would come back to the shelves for another six months or so. Every kid, and their mother, had to read Wimpy Kid. At this point, there is no need to prove the merits of this series. You either love it, or you don’t know about it. Still, since I’ve come up with this new reviewing template, I will follow it for a more coherent review.
WRITING STYLE: Wimpy Kid books are consistently well written and illustrated. Greg Heffley has his own established voice and it never seizes to amuse and entertain. The illustrations are simple, but detailed and have an endearing quality. I love the ratio of illustrations to text, making it a kind of wordier graphic novel.
NARRATION: “Meltdown” takes us through a climate-changing winter. January is blessed (or cursed) with sunshine and warmth, which makes Greg very nervous that the ice caps will melt and the frozen dinosaurs and other creatures will be free to roam the Earth. Once the weather gets properly cold, we get more of how and where Greg lives. I am terrible at remembering books, but I feel like this is the first time we’ve had such an in-depth glance at Greg’s neighborhood. Other stories were set mostly at school, or on a road trip or vacation. “Meltdown” does a great job of inviting us into the world of Greg Heffley, exploring his life on the Upper Surrey Street, which is complicated by the existence of the Lower Surrey Street. There is a feudal war going on between those who live on the Upper and Lower streets, and that’s a fun war to witness. Especially when the novel culminates in an epic Snowball Fight with various fractions, alliances and snow forts. The author mostly keeps track of everything that’s going on, but I sometimes found it hard to follow the action.
SETTING: As I’ve already mentioned, “Meltdown” gives us a whole new setting, or rather expands on the previously introduced setting, of Greg’s neighborhood. The illustrations are very helpful in establishing all the locations, houses and the people who live there. I would love to see more stories taking place in this setting.
CHARACTERS: We get introduced to a whole bunch of new characters – the various occupants of the Upper and Lower Surrey Street. Some were mere faces in the overall picture, while others played a substantial role in the Epic Snow Battle. My favorite new character was the guy who opened his own snowball store – you go, small business owner! I also enjoyed the role of the parents in this novel – nonchalant bystanders who don’t get the whole Upper/Lower Street Feud and who low-key don’t care that their kids spend days and sometimes nights outside in the freezing cold. A nice break from the overbearing parents that I so often encounter.
PERSONAL LIKES: EVERYTHING! Alright, almost everything. This is one of my favorite series of all time, and this is one of the best books in it, so I will be flailing over it, if you don’t mind. I just loved the world building! The previous book felt like such a letdown, with that silly vacation that they took. And this one brought it back home, literally. Now I feel like I know Greg so much better, know exactly where he lives and what goes on in his neighborhood. It’s really exciting for me. I especially loved the part where he would sneak into his grandma’s house to get warm and watch TV – that is such a Greg thing to do.
PERSONAL COMPLAINTS: My own concern was the school bus situation. We don’t have school buses here in Moscow, so I only know the situation from American movies, shows and books. And I always thought that the bus would either take you straight to your house, or at least close to your house. But Greg has to walk all the way to school if his parents can’t take him – that is messed up! Although, later in the story I learned that the bus actually could take Greg closer to his house. He either wouldn’t take it, cause he’d be late for it, or something else happened – I wasn’t exactly clear. But this is such a minor thing, and maybe it’s even explained, but I was dealing with indigestion while reading this book, so I may have blanked on some details.
IN CONCLUSION: This is one of the best books in the series of Wimpy Kid! The series had been kind of a letdown for the past several years – I didn’t really like the previous one, I don’t even remember reading the one before that… But “Meltdown” brings the series back to its glory days! I loved exploring more of Greg’s world – heck, I didn’t even know there was more world to explore! I hope that Jeff Kinney keeps this up for the next installments, which better be in the works. I can’t imagine my Novembers without the new Wimpy Kid.
YOU MIGHT LIKE IT IF: you’re in the mood for a quick, fun, illustrated read; you like your middle-grade characters wimpy, but snarky; you are not ashamed of loving a series for middle schoolers.
SUPER-OBJECTIVE CRITIC-LEVEL RATING: Five Wimpy Stars! Keep up the good work, Jeff Kinney!

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