Friday, June 28, 2019

Level 13 (Slacker #2)

Korman, Gordon. Level 13 (Slacker #2)
June 25th 2019 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Cam Boxer successfully got his parents off his back in Slacker by forming the Positive Action Group, a school organization that took on a life of its own, but now he wants to focus on his video game streaming career. His goal is to get 50,000 followers. This is more difficult than he imagines, since the PAG is constantly putting demands on his time. It doesn't help that Chuck is now going out with Daphne. Cam decides that if he tells everyone that he's failing in school, they will let him out of PAG obligations in order to study, and he can use the time to concentrate on his gaming. He keeps getting sucked into things, like the library fundraiser where he finds an old video game he used to enjoy. He starts playing this game on his stream, with Elvis, the beaver in the background. To his surprise, Elvis seems to really enjoy watching him play, and is quite the draw. His followers grow, but there are still problems. He isn't getting enough sleep, Elvis seems ill, and his school work is still suffering. When classmates start e mailing him assignments, he is apprehensive about accepting them, but soon caves and starts handing them in. It turns out that the video game is a rare first edition that has an outlawed 13th level, and his followers grow even more. There is even a fan base in his hometown, and t shirts with his user name are a hot seller and a big money maker for the local library. When it looks like Cam won't be able to break into that 13th level, his sister Melody helps, and additional assistance arrives from a surprising source. Eventually, Cam will be found out, and there will be consequences, but it's a wild ride until then!
Strengths: Cam is the embodiment of all that some of my students hold dear. Why pay attention in school when they could start their "careers" as famous YouTubers right now! Korman does a good job of having Cam achieve this, but at a price that teachers everywhere will appreciate. He still gets to meet his gaming inspiration, and he does get to be somewhat famous. He does well academically by cheating, but also learns the price of that. The inclusion of Chuck and Daphne's relationship, and it's toll on the group of friends, is something we need to see more in middle grade literature. The idea of fundraising for the library is admirable. This was a very fun read, and for some reason, I love Cam's misuse of the principal's name. I may change my name to Ms. Ying-whatsis!
Weaknesses: I personally found it beyond belief that Elvis would have been taken from his habitat and willingly watched video games, but it's believable and goofy enough that tweens will love it.
What I really think:  One of my copies of Slacker walked away; I suspect it was stolen by a student who couldn't bear to part with it. I'm reordering a copy so I have two of the first book. I wouldn't mind seeing another volume or two of Cam's adventures.
Ms. Yingling

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