Cabin Fever, the sixth installment (available today) of Jeff Kinney’s massively popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, won’t disappoint fans of Greg Heffley and his misadventures. Like the five volumes that came before, Cabin Fever is a smart, thoroughly enjoyable read densely packed with laugh-out-loud gags for the kids and keen insights for the parents.
I’ll throw up a light spoiler alert for those of you who want to know absolutely nothing about Cabin Fever before you read it yourselves. Our hero Greg, once again, is up to his usual mischief. Addicted to an online game Net Kritterz (think Neopets), Greg, desperate for cash to keep his Kritter alive, pulls his best friend Rowley into a series of schemes to earn quick money — until one scheme gets way out of hand, and even the police are on Greg’s tail! But before the authorities can bust him, a sudden blizzard hits, delaying Greg’s run-in with the cops but subjecting him to another, possibly worse form of punishment: being trapped in his house with his family for the holidays.
Kinney’s books have always captured middle school angst with incredible authenticity, and Cabin Fever is no exception. Greg can often be a self-centered jerk (who isn’t at 13 years old?), but we still root for him as he navigates a confusing, frustrating world of siblings, school, and adults. We see the senseless bureaucracy of public schools at work — the playground equipment at Greg’s school is removed out of fear of lawsuits — and Greg’s parents, as loving as they are, are not perfect purveyors or wisdom and authority: his mom can be overly indulgent and downright childish; his father is sometimes distant and overly punitive. Greg’s entire world rings true to kids and reminds adults of how it felt to be old enough that your actions can have real consequences, but still too young to feel in control of your own life. Plus, the book is really, really funny. Rowley, Greg’s hilariously daffy, Ralph Wiggum-like best friend, is back in rare form, and a doll named Alfrendo will make you laugh out loud. Whether you’re Greg’s age, his parents’ age, or even Rodrick’s age, you’ll find something to love about Cabin Fever.
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