Monday, November 28, 2011

N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage and Rescue Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Jackson is on his way to being the most popular boy at Nathan Hale Elementary. Charming, athletic, and good looking, Jackson Jones has it made. So what if he likes to pick on the weirdos and nerds that don't fit in? Jackson is doing the world a service by keeping them in their place. That is until he discovers that he must get the motherload of braces. In a flash he is at the bottom of the barrel and he must find new pursuits, like observing (otherwise known as spying) his ex-friends, teachers, and peers and discovering all their secrets.  The only ones that seem to elude him are five losers that are always getting out of class. By pure chance Jackson hides in a locker that he sees them sneak into and finds himself in a secret lair. After finding himself and his braces upgraded he discovers that these five geeks routinely save the world and have spectacular nano-technology abilities to help them:

Mathilda Choi's asthma inhalers give her the abilities to fly and throw fire. She has exceptional fighting abilities and can use anything as a weapon. Heathcliff Hodges has huge buckteeth and can hypnotize anyone with them. Duncan Dewey loves to eat glue and can secrete a sticky substance from his pores allowing him to climb the walls and stick to anything. Julio Escala is ADD and harnesses his hyperactivity for super strength and speed. Ruby Peet is the team leader and is allergic to everything, including negative emotions and lying. They are not only united in saving the earth, nerdiness, and special abilities, but also their hatred of Jackson Jones. As everything seems to falling apart for the N.E.R.D.S. - with a new administrator and a douche bag new agent - they are put onto a new important case saving scientists and keeping Dr. Jigsaw from rearranging the continents. Will the agents be able to pull together and reevaluate their perspectives of each other and how they work to save the world? I listened to this in my car going to to and from work.

You can either read the rest of this review to discover why I didn't like this or you can stop here with the knowledge that I didn't like this. It doesn't really deserve a longer review, but I will go into detail because as a Wandering Librarian that's what I do.
I would like to say that I do think that this is a rather intriguing plot: popular boy sees the other side of the cultural spectrum, nerds saving the world, spy vs. spy, spunky teen assassin. It should all come together with some action, witty repartee, and riffs off of spy tropes. Fun! I am just looking for some fun and things blowing up.

Unfortunately what I got was an only adequate narrator, an agonizingly slow plot, and a main character that had my yelling at my stereo asking why he was such an unbelievable ass. I truly did not find anything redeemable about Jackson. I kept thinking that he got what he deserved by being left by his friends and beat up by the agents. What a jackass. The secondary characters were too weak to take up the slack, they were either one-dimensional caricatures or ridiculously unlikable. ALL OF THEM.

I got fed up with the whole thing, about a third of the way through I just gave up and found the book and read the last two pages hoping against hope that I would be intrigued and go back and listen to the whole thing. Nope. No dice. The whole thing is bullshit, and I couldn't help thinking that I had wasted several hours of my life. It's all so unlikable! BLARGH! Don't read it, don't read the rest of the series, and I'm going to go as far as to say that you shouldn't read his other series The Sisters Grimm.

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