Terry's Reviews > Project Sweet Life

Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger
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's review
Dec 01, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: blush-free-reads
Read in December, 2009

Towards the end of elementary school, I really enjoyed The Mad Scientists' Club and The Secret of Terror Castle for the camaraderie and the club houses. Although I'd never experienced one in my limited life, in fiction there were trios and groups of guys who haunted boy-caves decorated in a girls-keep-out style. All was innocent, Eisenhower-esque fun. The opening chapters of Haringer's book kindled my hopes by recalling those stories, as our fifteen year old heroes gather in a home bomb shelter and then plan for a summer of relaxation. Hi jinx ensue: banks are robbed, treasure is buried, plots are hatched and conducted. Cue references to "Stand by Me" and "Goonies."

Then, this didn't live up to my hopes. Took a long time to get going. Long shots stacked up on coincidence, piled up on top of flukes. Perhaps aging has spoiled my love of such things, now that I'm the old man shouting, "and I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those darn kids!" Hartinger offers up a sweet story, but one that missed the sweet spot, as it were. The action kept up at a steady pace (straining credulity more than a few times) but the characters never did. The jokes were so-so, the conflicts were ho-hum. It was earnest, not energetic.

The book would be fine for younger readers, as I remember it being squeaky-clean (one character's invented swearing offered some chuckles), although it is too long for struggling readers.

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Reading Progress

11/27/2009 page 50
17.36% "Good, clever. Not yet really feeling the three main characters."
11/30/2009 page 100
34.72% "Perhaps I'm jaded, but this isn't quite charming, isn't really engaging. Feels like one set piece after another."

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