Friday, December 20, 2013

Title:     Don't Care High
Author:   Gordon Korman
Rating:   ★★★★ 1/2

Gordon Korman is another one of my favorite authors. Since I read laughed my way through I Want to Go Home! way back over a decade ago, he has instantly become one of my "must-buy" authors. Unfortunately, he's not very popular in the Philippines so his books are hard to come by. Thankfully, I got some Amazon credits so I was able to buy Don't Care High. Hurrah!

"Don't Care High: It's more than a nickname -- it's a concept." At Don Carey High School, school spirit is so non-existent that nobody even noticed when a highway on-ramp got built over the football field. But new students Paul and Sheldon have a plan to wake the school up -- and Don't Care High will never be the same. Totally off-the-wall, but always good-natured, this hysterically funny book is not to be missed.

Paul's attempts to adjust to New York City life are thwarted at his high school, nicknamed Don't Care High, until his manipulation of a new Student Council president wakes up the apathetic student body.

"Don't Care High" is actually a wordplay on the name of the school, Don Carey High School. The students are bizarrely apathetic, and not participating has become quite the norm, even for some teachers. Then new student Paul Abrams arrives from Canada, where he immediately stands out because he's the only one who has any ambition, and even finishes his homework early. Sheldon Pryor, previously a transferee himself, takes him under his wing as a sort of 'guide' towards becoming an inherent apathetic student Don't Care High student. However, it is all under a guise as Sheldon exhibits that he, in fact, has the most drive to make the students in their school take part in all their activities.

Sheldon hatches a plan, which Paul hesitatingly agrees to as a sort of a lark, which turns into a serious matter, and makes Don't Care High become one of the most infamous schools around the district. However, since they were exhibiting participation and eagerness for the first time ever, some teachers have become supportive of them.

Don't Care High has some really weird characters. Sheldon and Paul are normal enough, although Sheldon has a knack for knowing where all the "will make your tummy ache for days" kind of food in Manhattan. He and Sheldon become instant friends and they get through one scrape after another. Their friendship is very reminiscent of Korman's MacDonald Hall series' Bruno and Boots, and even of I Want to Go Home!'s Rudy Miller and Mike Webster. Korman has a knack for creating troublesome duos but whose antics almost always mean well and cause no lasting harm. In this pattern, one is almost always the 'leading troublemaker' (Sheldon, Bruno, and Rudy) while the other is a hesitating accomplice who eventually gets so caught up in the lark of the leader. But instead of being irritated at the leader, you just can't help but laugh! Or at least I can't. I've read I Want to Go Home! and the MacDonald Hall series more than twice already and I can't help but still laugh.

Other notable weird characters are Mike Pryor, who is one of the most apathetic students I've ever met. There are a lot of things in his school he doesn't understand, and he doesn't even care to ask why all these kids are coming up to him, declaring their support for him. He's not lovable (for me, at least), but his no reactions make me laugh.

One thing you should remember when reading Don't Care High (or even Korman's other books), is that these are not meant to be realistic, but more of an exaggerated young adult humorous book. It takes you out of the mundane happenings in real life, and presents to you some funny antics that can make you forget your troubles for the few hours you're involved in the book's world. It doesn't try to be serious at all or reflect black-and-white reality.

Another thing that I love about Korman is that he has this ability to suck you into that world, whether it be in a camp, a forest, a school, a boy's dormitory. This doesn't happen to me for all books, but whenever I'm reading one of his books, I instantly feel that I'm a spectator right there.

Don't Care High is not your typical YA book that is currently de rigeur nowadays. It does not have that romance aspect, and it's actually funny. If you're looking for something different this Christmas, give this one a try. :)

Ciao!


12 comments:

  1. Not so sure if I am going to give this one a try since I prefer my contemporaries angsty and tear jerker. But it's refreshing to know that a YA book without romance actually existed. Kudos to the author for taking a new path and not jumping into the bandwagon.

    Great review, Goldie. And advance Merry Christmas!

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    1. Hi Charlotte! Happy New Year! :) Actually, he's an old author. His first book was written when he was in 7th grade for a class project. But I really love that he has been able to retain his humor through the ages. Have a nice 2014 ahead! :)

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  2. I love YA stories like this. Have you read Jessica Brody? She's funny too! If not I suggest you start with My Life Undecided, it's snarky and ridiculous as this one and I think you'll laugh your way through it as well. Oh and Lovely Vicious by Sarah Wolf is a blast as well. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh my god, Lovely Vicious was one of the books I've been wanting to read! Thank you for reminding me :D I'll go check out My Life Undecided too :)

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  3. I loved this author when I was younger, and this book sounds hilarious. I hadn't previousl heard of it, but you make me want to read it—I love intentionally exaggerated characters. (Another book that does this is No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale.) Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

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    1. You're welcome, Emily! I hope you get a chance to read this and have a few laughs :)

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  4. I could read something without romance in it. It sounds like a good change and I love odd characters who are unique and funny.
    Great review
    Ruty@Reading...Dreaming

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    1. Yes, sometimes I just need a break from romance! Happy New Year, Ruty! :)

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  5. I think I WILL try this! I've never read Gordon Korman before and I do hope I'll find a new go-to author in him. Thanks Goldie :)

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    1. Thanks Buona! I do hope you'll enjoy his work :)

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  6. Ah, I LOVE books with humor and this one sounds really nice and just like a fun read :)

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    1. Me too! Don't Care High is not as funny as his earlier work, I Want to Go Home, but it's still pretty funny, especially since humor in YA is so rare nowadays hehe.

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