Hello awesome readers. This review is long overdue! I read Reading Blue Devils months ago (when it came out) and have been really wanting to review it and tell u guys all about how great it is.
It is a really funny book that definitely echoes the spirit of the times.
Reading Blue Devils
Author: Jon Bennett
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Teens, Diversity, High-school,
Suitable for: Teens+
My Rating: 5 Stars
Format Read for Review: Kindle copy provided by the author in return for an honest review.
Description: The Devil comes to highschool teacher Dieter Vogel in the form of a Twinkie and offers him a deal. In return for Mr. V helping overthrow the current school mascot, Gretel the Pretzel the Devil offers him vengeance all of his wildest dreams coming true. With a little guidance he incites an aggressive movement for change. Despite how gloomy that might sound it really is a feel-good story that is very comical, fast paced and entertaining. Sure it features a lot of angry protests but also the overcoming of diversity and loads of personal growth.
“In truth, he was not cut out for teaching at-risk minority youth. They needed warmth, strength, and innovation from their teachers; all they got from Dieter was a smug-wet blanket.”
In Short: I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone, unless you are racist, then it might make you feel uncomfortable. Inner-city-school-strife is never a topic I would have sought out because it seems depressing but I am so glad I read this book because it is so much more than I thought it would be and it was incredibly entertaining. There was a healthy dose of action and comedy all along the way with plenty of rewards and feels at the end to tie it up nicely with a beautiful bow.
“Oh, those little shits, Dieter thought as he closed the beat-up sliding door to his mom’s mini-van, his means of transportation to and from work until he could afford a bike.”
Pros: This book is very well written, edited, detailed, and well thought-out. The story had a wonderful pace and was full of exciting events. The teacher follows elaborate plans laid out by the devil to subtly manipulate the minds, feelings and actions of others. That aspect of the story alone is fascinating and kept me very entertained. I could draw parallels to the struggles of the characters with people in the real world and therefor found this book oddly healing in a way. It let the oppressed finally get a little payback which was satisfying. There are themes of revenge if you enjoy that sort of thing. There are also a lot of interesting classical literature references being spun into a modern symbols. The power of words is greatly demonstrated. The tension and drama of the story was real but it had a lightness to it that made it palatable. Each character is unique and really comes to life as the story unfolds. The characters are likable (or hateable) and relatable. The main character has awesome character development, or maybe I should say transformation. You can also tell the author has a lot of experience in this environment by the authentic feel of the book. This story is so relevant and so fantastical at the same time.
“Behold, Luciferrrrrr! the Twinkie shouted, spewing its white filling all over the desk and onto Dieter’s pants.”
Cons: I have no notable issues with this book.
“Though chaos and upheaval had been his goals, he genuinely wanted the students to prosper.”
Parent’s Guide: Highschool stuff – innuendo, swearing, violence.
To Hell with high school! The American education system is turned inside out when a frustrated teacher incites his students to stage an uprising. In a poor suburban community in southern Ohio, Dieter Vogel is a failing English teacher at a high school populated predominately by minority students. He is bullied by the basketball coach, neglected by the principal, ignored by his crush, Esther, and pressured to workout with Jose, the art teacher. At the end of the first day back after summer break, Dieter is visited by Satan, who takes the initial form of a Twinkie. Satan convinces Dieter to overthrow the school mascot, Gretel the Pretzel, so that the Devil can take its place. Dieter is promised Esther’s love and the position of principal in return. All Dieter has to do is follow the Devil’s advice and use classic literature to manipulate the students into a racially charged frenzy against the mostly white staff.
See a guest post by Jon Bennett here: https://odbookreviews.com/2018/03/25/jon-bennett/ where he discusses the challenge of writing a highschool setting.
A born and bred Midwesterner, Jon Bennett graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati and went on to Miami University. He spent a year pretending to be a business major until his love of English kicked down his door and demanded attention.
After receiving his Masters Degree in Teaching Language Arts, he student-taught at a secondary school in Belmopan, Belize. From there, he spent 6 years teaching in Chicago’s public schools, where he met some of the most inspiring, frustrating, wonderful students and faculty in the world. It was in Chicago, in lane #2 of the local Bally’s Fitness swimming pool, that he met his brilliant, talented and much-hotter-than-him, future-wife Nicole. During the final summer of their stay in Chicago, Nicole gave birth to their daughter Charlotte, who is already cooler and more adventurous than her father.
He currently lives and works in Southern California.
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