Review: The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid by Lee J. Mavin
Publisher: Grace Publishing
Age recommendation: Children ,Tween
It is Ziggy’s first year at Fuqian International School. He wakes up on the day before his first day of school not remembering anything about his past. His mother asks him to start a diary, thus the birth of The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid. He records each day’s events, even though they get weirder each day. Like his teachers’ suspicious actions. And the secret he keeps hidden under his extra large cap. It is only the matter of time before things starts to unravel and more questions about Ziggy’s past are revealed.
The first 100 pages of The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid was a total bore. There was barely any movement in the plot. Since this book is 232 pages long, I could barely believe the slow start took nearly half the book. The only reason why I pushed on was because I had to write this review. Otherwise, I would have given up on this book.
Things started moving at after the midpoint of the book. The happenings were familiar and I couldn’t help thinking of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I don’t want to give any spoilers here but suffice to say that I wasn’t impressed with the similarities.
Every character in the story is weird! Of course, because Ziggy might be a mutant, he qualifies as a weird character. But all the other characters? I spent most of the time wondering why nearly all the characters are abnormal. I would have understood and accepted this if the book is in the Fantasy or Sci-fi genres, but it isn’t (at least according to its Amazon product page). This made all the weirdo characters even more out-of-place in the story.
Ziggy’s crush on his teacher, Miss Wood, made me cringe inwardly many times. Many times, I couldn’t help but think that Miss Wood was overstepping her boundaries as a teacher. After all, where can we find a female teacher in her 30s hugging and telling her infatuated 12-year old male student that she misses him? Or winking at that male student? Or blowing kisses when video chatting with him? All these will probably only happen if she is behaving inappropriately towards a minor! The reason why she does that is explained at the end of the book, but her actions are still shudder-worthy nonetheless.
Most of the story did not make sense to me. If I were Ziggy, I would be extremely curious to know about my mom’s job or why I look weird or why strange things keeps on happening to me. The fact that Ziggy actually accepts everything abnormal as just unusual made the whole story seemed like child’s play. Also, Ziggy’s dramatic exaggerations in his diary entries did not help much.
After enduring the whole story, I was disappointed that the answer to Ziggy’s mystery wasn’t revealed. Perhaps the author wants to carry on the suspense into the sequel of The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid, but I thought that it was a bit too much to make us read the whole book without providing an answer to the nagging mystery. Worse still, more mysteries were added.
The climax wasn’t a climax. It was so mild that I felt the entire gearing up for the climax was a waste. It was a real let-down. Without a satisfying climax, the whole plot was flat.
When I finished the book, I realized that one of the reasons why I couldn’t enjoy it is because they story caters for the children/tween market. This is probably the reason why I frequently found Ziggy’s manner of talking and actions childish. I’ve read children/tween books and have never had this problem before.
I regret to say that I did not find The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid up to my standard or liking. That being said, my review here is solely my opinion. A child or tween reader would probably think different from me.
Lee J. Mavin is an ESL teacher at a Japanese company in Shanghai, China. He has self-published three books. His first book, Reverse The Universe: Collected Poems and Unused Lyrics, is a collection of poetry. His second book, The Students Sold Us Secrets, is a collection of horror short stories. The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid, published in July 2011, is his third book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”