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Hey guys it’s Sam, and you might remember a time on this very site way back when* (*May 2011, to be exact) I put up a review on Big Nate 2, and I rambled on and on about it in one direction and one direction only: merely how horrible it was (and I wasn’t kidding). And you might remember how I concluded the post: hoping that the by-then-upcoming Big Nate on a Roll, the third entry, would invigorate the series and lift it from its many troubles. Well, now I’ve finally come to read it, and I’m surprised at how serious Lincoln took my information, if he even did. If there was a stream with stepping stones that worked as a reviewing system (the books that stay at the start are the worst, the books that cross are the best), Big Nate 3 would’ve already been almost finished crossing the stream. And why do I say almost? Well, read this review to find that out.

“The rest of the play is kind of a blur. I can’t stop thinking about Artur. Hey, that rhymes!”

- “Big Nate” Wright

(If you wanna skip to the real review, then ignore this paragraph and read the one below.)

The Big Nate series may have published its first full-feature book (not a lousy compilation of comic strips ripped off the web) 2 years ago in ’10, but Nate celebrated his series’ twentieth birthday just last year. If you do the math right, you should come up with the fact that Nate’s series started back in ’91. There have been eight other Big Nate books that weren’t full-feature novels, and almost half of them were cartoon compilations (see what I mean?): 1992’s Add More Babes!, 2008’s I Smell A Pop Quiz!, 2010’s Big Nate from the Top, 2o11’s Big Nate Out Loud and Big Nate and Friends. (Plus this years’s upcoming What Could Possibly Go Wrong?) The other three were what Lincoln Peirce himself described as “failed experiments”: his first 3 Big Nate eBooks from ’02. They were Dibs on This ChairPray for a Firedrill, and Big Nate…Makes a Splash.

Have you ever been itching to steal the first place title from your strongest rival? That’s what Nate’s dealing with in Big Nate on a Roll. Nate was always Joe #1 in his Timber Scout troop…that is, until Artur—aka Mr. Perfect—is newly recruited. Now Nate’s been degraded to 2nd place, and Artur means business even without his own knowing of it. But another problem kindles when Nate’s trapped in the center of a “dog-leash incident” and loses his skateboard in the process, landing deep in the waters of Beard’s Creek. Sooner or later, Nate and Artur are fierce competitors in a Timber Scout contest to see who can sell the most wall hangings and soak up the most greens. The prizes, from 3rd-place to 1st, are:

  • The 3rd-place winner will receive a Rockin’ Robot kit that allows you to build your own robot with the ability to play over a hundred songs.
  • The runner-up will receive a plain telescope with a celestial chart included…whatever that is.
  • The grand-prize winner will receive a “hi-flyin'” customized skateboard that allows you to design the board the way you want to! With 55mm wheels and a cast aluminum truck assembly, it’s no wonder why Nate’s fighting hard for this gift.

Will Nate put Artur in second for once in his runner-upping life? Or will he land with the silver medal while Artur gets the gold?

This book is a surprising step in the right direction for Big Nate. Plenty of laughs, drama, and action keep the book strung up and interesting to read. Colorful language (“that shut her up”), violence (ex: a woman is disturbed by the fact that Nate included “botched surgery” in one of his comics) and some lovey scenes do occur, but parental-wise, there’s not much to worry for about this book. Well, maybe except the violence part. Instead of shunning Lincoln, I’m actually coming to praise him for realizing what he’s doing to his fans and stepping up his game. Not by a little, but by a lot. And I swear, if Big Nate 4 can pull this off when it comes out in two weeks, Lincoln’s series is pretty much no longer in critical danger. I should know: did you see what I had to deal with for Big Nate 2? Anyway, I feel good that I had been anticipating my opportunity to read this book for so long. And, hey—I think it actually adds up evenly! Now that I’m feeling all happy, let’s roll the chart.

 2 3/4 out of 5 – Educational value – As Nate’s constantly updating his amount of money in the wall hanging competition, he uses a heck of a lot of math problems that readers can follow along to. For example, Nate calculates Artur’s amount of sold wall hangings (53) times the cost of the wall hangings apiece ($8) to get the total amount of money Artur has received for the competition ($424).

 3 out of 5 – Positive messages – Although Nate does show the competitive half of him throughout the book, it’s a good message that sometimes we all need to unravel our competitive sides every once in a while. Besides that, there’s not much messages to go around, as Nate’s best friends aren’t very “friend-y”, and his shown teachers have very snappy natures. Wall hangings do have kiddie but sometimes sweet messages on them. Examples include “Sharing is caring!”, “Don’t you love grandmas?”, and even “Follow your rainbow!”

 1 3/4 out of 5 – Positive role models – Nate’s sometimes disastrous, other times delightful life is perfectly related to that of real life. Life is almost everything or anything you’d want to call it: a disaster, a movie, a rollercoaster full of twists and turns, and even sometimes a box of chocolates. Nate may get competitive, but maybe that’s how you operate contests, too.

 3 3/4 out of 5 – Ease of read – Big Nate on a Roll is a great and invigorating entry into the series, full of humor, action, and plenty of surprises as well. Although the first time I read this book it felt empty at first, I continued reading on and I only rekindled with that feeling every once in a while. That means not all the time. Although this might be more than violent than past entries, it is definitely that one entry in the Big Nate as-of-now trilogy that lifted the series from the rubble and debris of its disasters and gently washed it off until it was clean. Weird metaphor, huh? I remember when I said in the finale of my last Big Nate review: “Hopefully, Lincoln can try again in his third book, which is already in production, due to release this August [I released the post by May '11, so book 3 hadn't arrived yet]. Maybe he’ll take back the innovation and get serious this time.” Well, past and modern Sams, you got your wishes.

4 out of 5 – Violence – This book has a baffling amount of violence. Nate mishandles a fake wooden sword and accidentally decapitates a garden gnome with it. One of Nate’s friends, Chad, is shown slamming into a wall via wirework during a play. In one illustration, Teddy and Francis [having come back from a scout camping trip] are in bad shape, Francis’ face swollen with hornet swings, and Teddy about to barf. Nate draws up a newcomer’s comic about a stuntman named Moe Mentum (get it?) that breaks sixteen of his bones, punctures one of his lungs, and has five heart attacks, all in one stunt. Another one of Nate’s comics about our favorite medical misfit Doctor Cesspool, along with his rival Dr. Arch Enemy and fellow nurse Maureen Biology (obviously a play on “marine biology”), shows Cesspool accidentally botching a man while performing surgery on him, putting his foot where his hand should be and his hand where his foot should be. A woman that Nate tries to sell this to is greatly disturbed by this fact. On a camping trip, Nate’s dad accidentally sets up everyone in sight to be skunk-sprayed. Nate pats himself on the back by making a comic about the super-heroic version of himself (Ultra-Nate), and he saves Jenny moments before a truck passes by. Spitsy the dog dive-attacks Nate and begins licking and slobbering all over him. A drop of stray paint lands in Nate’s eye, and he blindly crashes into a ladder that Artur is standing on, causing the two to fall onto the floor. Later, Nate gets caught in an incident where he skates right into an outstretched dog leash. Nate also makes the bad decision of tying Spitsy’s leash to his belt, as Spitsy drags him helplessly dead-on into a tree. And I don’t think I’m even finished with it all.

 1 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – Nate’s still trying to win Jenny’s heart, although for the first time that’s only minor in the book. The final panel of Nate’s camp comic shows everyone in their underwear (including the male adults) in the lake, washing off skunk smell.

0 out of 5 - Language – Nothing much.

2 3/4 out of 5 – Product Placement – Big Nate 3 doesn’t state much direct brand names, and although a competition’s prizes include a build-a-robot kit, a telescope, and a custom skateboard, there is nothing product-placing except the fact that Big Nate 3 belongs to a famous children’s book series.

0 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – This aspect is not featured.

……………………………………………

Entertainment: B+ (3.5 points)

Fun: B+ (3.5 points)

Smarts: B (3 points)

Style: A (4 points)

Read-Again Ratio: B (3 points)

Humor: A- (4 points)

FINAL SCORE: 21 out of 30 (…), 3 1/2 stars out of 5, 81% out of 100%

CONSENSUS: Big Nate on a Roll is the perfect apology to Peirce’s previous failure, bringing back all the good hijinks and heartwarm, but with some trip-ups stuck in the vat, Peirce’s series may not be risen from its rubble completely after all.

…………………………

Comment, rate, like, share, do this one new thing called “reblogging”, and draw on the subscribe button’s face, and a leprechaun will show up at your house and give you gold. I know, a bit too late for St. Patty’s references, isn’t it? Well, come back next Monday and I’ll have something perty good for you!

- Sam ;)

This week’s Would You Rather o’ The Week (weekly “Would You Rather”s to conclude every post) is: “WOULD YOU RATHER…be the protagonist in a terrible movie, or have a minor role in an amazing movie?” :D :D :D :D :D wt



Hey guys, it’s Sam debuting with my new segment for book reviews–Page Flip! I–Oh, gee. Me oh my. Ba humbug. Big Nate Strikes Again has totally changed my view for Lincoln Peirce’s hit series. And I’m not playing funny. This is the worst book I’ve ever read, besides those epic fails from Goosebumps. Is it worth the read? Heck no. Is it that bad? Let’s find out.

Big Nate Strikes Again is Lincoln Peirce’s second novel in his hit book series from his comic strip, Big Nate. It lunged into bookstores last year, and people have been loving it ever since, like the first novel, Big Nate In a Class By Himself. But when I read it, I never loved it back. First of all, $13.00? That’s a ripoff! But, what the heck, it’s Big Nate, right? Of all the books I’ve read, I just wanted this to be good, darn it! Why does my life suck so bad?

Think of this book like this: Take a bad script, make it worse, then turn it into a bad Big Nate script. Almost every stage of the book was drowned out horribly inconsistently. Let’s start with the humor of this book. Two words: plain LAZY. Lacking heart, inspiration, and innovation. Probably the most innovative thing in this book was watching Randy Betancourt get a bloody nose. But that’s just underestimation.  Everything was broken. The script, broken. The humor, broken. The perspective, broken!

Next, we’ll stop by the actual script or the perspective of that script. It brings you down from the amount of awkwardness the script allows to have, enough to give you a migraine.  I got so mad at this book, I wanted to rip the pages into pieces, go to Lincoln Peirce himself, grab him by the ear, and yell in it, “WHY DID YOU MAKE YOUR BOOK SUCK?!?!” It’s like Lincoln chose his script with the roll of a dice, and that’s not a good thing AT ALL. It’s like Lincoln didn’t give a darn. He just made sure he got all the characters, threw out the innovative parts, added in some stuff, made it inconsistent, and slapped it into a cover and gave us the bare minimum.

We’ll stop by the picturing next. Just like novel one; splendid, charming, and eye-catching. It might be the only thing that bumped the book upwards instead of downwards. Nate’s sketches are still pretty laughable, but they aren’t hilarious enough to lift the bar up to a good score. Why? Because it was BROKEN!…sort of.

Here is something that’s really ugly. People were actually liking this book. Giving it favorable reviews. On Google Books, it got a 4 stars out of 5, summing up all the reviews. We’re talking 3 stars out of 5, 4 stars, even 5 STARS!!! No one even BOTHERED to give it ONE star! Dirty lies! And I couldn’t scroll down a Goodreads.com page without seeing a bazillion 4-star and 5-star ratings! NOW THAT IS JUST DISGUSTING! Like my dad, I will hate a lie when I hear one. And now that you lie now, that makes me sick. Really sick, after eating a whole 10-nugget meal from Wendy’s.

Sure, some of the little “games” in there were interesting, but they were as mind-numbing as algebra. Especially a maze that will take you YEARS to finish, just to get  Ben Franklin to his time machine so he can hit the 1700s again! Another was a lame decoding method that couldn’t just TELL YOU THE ANSWERS ahead of time, before you stretch your brain like it’s a chunk of Play-Doh! And as we all know, when you stretch a chunk of Play-Doh too far…it BREAKS APART.

The final verdict to this is our first TWO out of 10 (terrible)! I would recommend Big Nate In a Class By Himself over this junkyard. Even if it wasn’t the perfect comic novel.  Hopefully, Lincoln can try again in his third book, which is already in production, due to release this August. Maybe he’ll take back the innovation and get serious this time.

Here are the emblems Big Nate Strikes Again deserves!

Epic Fail - When you don’t succeed at first, never try again.  The script that makes you sigh, the bonuses that make you blush, and the fails that deserve face-palms are only described as recipients of this emblem.

Broken - When you shudder walking by a book, you know it’s Broken. After hours of reading, you still are unable to wrap your mind around what’s happening and when it’s happening. Maybe more thorough descriptions would rekindle the mishap.

Total Ripoff - Was it a sick joke? Was it all for laughs? When you spend 20 dollars on a book that you later realize wasn’t worth the overspend, you feel like it’s a rotten prank that you just can’t undo…besides the deadly refund. Maybe next time you’ll approach with a little more caution.

Disappointing - Plenty of books out there refuse to stoop to their potential. Books with the potential that falls rather short earns this nose-thumbing demerit for their troubles.

………

Need I say more? Well, here in Michigan, it’s getting pretty late, so I’m Sam, and I’ll see you next time on Page Flip, AND Sammwak!

Yours truly,

Sam ;)



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