Book: Brave (2017)
Author: Svetlana Chmakov
Genre: MG, Graphic Novel/Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Basic plot: Jensen’s prepared for anything… especially a zombie apocalypse. But he’s finding middle school hard to navigate. His solution is to try to avoid the bullies at all costs. When the school newspaper wants to interview him about that very topic, he freezes up. He doesn’t think he’s being bullied. But then he starts seeing bullying around him everywhere, including from his own “friends”. That’s when he decides it’s time to be brave and do something about it.
1) Jensen is a very likable protagonist. Even with his little quirks about sun spots. I love seeing him grow throughout the book and seeing his thought process. For example, his hatred of math and the “evil” math teacher goes through a nice arc.
2) I thought it interesting that the bullying in this story is not just confined to the “bully” characters. Even Jensen’s own “friends” display bullying. Not that they necessarily trying to be mean, but they very thoughtless. I loved the phrase that about a true friend is somebody who will save you a seat. (*SPOILER: Peppi–from the first book in this series– does exactly that. And at the end, Jensen himself approaches one of the bullies–now without his cohort–to offer to sit with him during lunch.)
3) I really liked Jorge, the baseball dude who ends up being Jensen’s project partner. I can’t believe Jensen ended up with such an awesome partner!
4) I enjoyed the math tutoring sessions. I liked how the author brought in one of the bullies to these scenes. And I thought it was good that she showed that Jensen’s grades didn’t improve right away.
5) At the end, Chmakov gives us a little author’s notes about sun spots. I almost wished had put this into the story itself, especially giving Jensen the discovery moment that the sun spots are not as life-threatening as he suspects.
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) At times, I felt like this book came across as being a little too didactic on the subject of bullying. It just felt forced at times.
2) I really didn’t like Jenny. She’s the one who does the report on bullying, but she herself is a bully! I don’t think this was really dealt with and I wanted it to be addressed. She definitely has some serious anger-management problems.
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Really enjoyed Jensen’s voice in this book. I’d recommend for middle-schoolers, especially those who like graphic novels.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…