Welcome to the DWEEB Club by Betsy Uhrig. Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster, 2021. 9781534467682
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Genre: Adventure/science fiction
What did you like about the book? Jason and his two best friends, Vincent and Glamorous Steve, sign up for the mysterious H.A.I.R. Club (which no one has ever heard of) at the school activities fair. Things get interesting quickly when their faculty advisor shows them the awesome surveillance equipment that a mysterious benefactor has installed in the school. The H.A.I.R. Club gets to watch everything that’s going on in Flounder Bay Middle/High School, although their first big assignment is a bit underwhelming — figuring out who’s breaking into the cafeteria’s crouton stash. But weirder stuff (time travel) is in store; it turns out that the video files actually show the club members eating lunch, five years in the future, and everyone seems to be having a tough time. Can they change their fates? And who is sending them messages from the future? There’s a bit of a mystery here as Jason cycles through the likely culprits. I liked the diversity of the H.A.I.R. club members, each with their own special sauce to contribute to the group effort. The slapstick elements, including triggering the school’s sprinkler system and a chase through a Google-like campus called Woozle, were entertaining. Most club members are White, but names and descriptions cue a few as Asian-American.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Time travel plots are always tricky and I didn’t feel that Uhrig really pulled this one off. The characters seemed thin to me and their problems either shallow or underdeveloped. I know we’re meant to suspend disbelief, but in no way could I believe that any school would allow an anonymous donor to rig up spy cameras everywhere in a school building and then give students access to them. I found a loose end with a friendly skunk odd — perhaps to be resolved in a sequel?
To whom would you recommend this book? Middle grade readers who enjoy Stuart Gibbs or Gordon Korman.
Who should buy this book? Middle school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: October 18, 2021