Book Review – The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari

league-of-unexceptional-childrenBy Awnali Mills

Jonathan and Shelley are unexceptional.  They are not smart, but neither are they dumb.  They aren’t ugly, nor are they beautiful.  They are just, well, average.  They are so boringly average that most people can’t remember that they exist.  This very unexceptional-ness, though, is their superpower.  They won’t be noticed or remembered, no matter what.  This makes them perfect candidates for the League of Unexceptional Children, a ring of spies that reports directly to the president.

Someone has kidnapped the vice president, and is certainly torturing him for the secret to where the nuclear codes are kept.  Unfortunately, all the identities of the League of Unexceptional Children have been exposed, so they are now useless as spies.  It’s up to the newly recruited Jonathan and Shelley to save the day.  But with no training and their unexceptional skills, how can they possibly rescue the vice president and save the world?

I picked up the second of this series from our new books, but didn’t want to read the second before reading the first.  It really looked like a funny series, and I wanted to like it.  I just didn’t.

I find it hard to believe that anyone could survive in such anonymity as these kids.  Their parents don’t remember their names, their teachers don’t realize that they’re attending class, and they have no friends—how could they when everyone forgets them as soon as they see them?  Yes, I know that it’s supposed to be silly, but it should at least be silly-credible.  After all, if their own parents can’t remember them, then how can the spymaster remember them?  Reading this book, I felt like the skeptical kid at Christmas, “So, how does Santa come down the chimney if we don’t have a fireplace?  Does he come in the vents?  Won’t he get sliced up on the vent cover?  Just how does that work?  Isn’t it too small for him to come through?”

Usually, I can manage a fair amount of suspension-of-disbelief, but you can’t pound me with how forgettable these kids are without me starting to question why only select people can remember them (and Daneshvari really pounds this.)  They get all the clues to solve the mystery, but they aren’t the smartest kids (remember?), so they don’t put the clues together.  Until suddenly they do, which is very convenient for the author.

And, I don’t know if this will make sense, but the book was silly without being funny for the most part.  There were a few times that I laughed when a turn of phrase tickled me, but if I hadn’t been planning to write a review I wouldn’t have finished the book.

If kids are fans of silly books, then you might recommend this to them.  I doubt that I’ll be recommending it, myself.

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