Most of the entries in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series are a lot like the Zucker/Abrams/Zucker movies of my younger days — throwing a lot of jokes and seeing what’s going to stick. This leads to some absolutely hilarious moments on the perils of growing up and to some mainly other forgettable moments. And I suppose I shouldn’t scoff at anything this is encouraging young people to crack the cover of a book.
But as I listened to the seventeenth installment, Diper Overlode, I couldn’t help but think that either the formula is wearing a bit thin or that maybe it’s time to have Greg grow up a bit.
Some of that may stem that instead of putting Greg front and center this time around, the focus is his older brother Rodrick and his dreams of having his garage band become the next big thing. Yes, Greg is there to relate most of the exploits that Rodrick and his band engage in while trying to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands, but I can’t help but feel like a lot of the story is happening without Greg being a vital character to things. Much of it is Greg relating things Rodrick has told hi or the story stretching to find ways to include Greg as part of Loaded Diaper.
Yes, there are so amusing moments including Greg and a band member stealing a drumstick from an animatronic gorilla at the local equivalent of Chuck E.. Cheese. But there are moments where Rodrick and the band get to meet their band heroes that ring a bit more hollow than usual because Greg has little or no investment in the band beyond his big brother being a fan. I can’t help but wonder if deviating from the formula by having Rodrick narrate things might have helped a bit here.
All this isn’t to say this is a terrible book. It’s just one that feels like a lackluster entry in what has been an enjoyable series — and one that I’m reliving with my daughter, who is fully enthralled with the exploits of Greg and company.