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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
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Meddling Kids (edition 2018)

by Edgar Cantero (Author)

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7385920,399 (3.54)23
"The summer of 1977. The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon's Zoinx River Valley) solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster--another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboën Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids. 1990. The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask ... The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It's their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world."--Jacket.… (more)
Member:stevepugh
Title:Meddling Kids
Authors:Edgar Cantero (Author)
Info:Titan Books (2018), 322 pages
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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
2.5/5

Very rarely do I rate books I don't finish, but in this case, having read 61%, I feel as if I've read enough to merit an opinion. My opinion is this book isn't for me.

I absolutely loved the premise-sort of a Scooby Doo/Cthulhu mash up-I mean, what could be more perfect for me? However, what I found to be funny and entertaining at first, soon turned into ennui. I found myself making excuses or reading short stories to avoid going back to this book.

I see a lot of reviews mentioning the author's inventions of certain words and while I found some of them to be fun, after a while it got too cute. Tragichuckled for instance. Another thing that bothered me were the very dense run on sentences. Some were so long my mind wandered more than once trying to read them. Reading for fun shouldn't be this much work.

Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. I wish I could honestly say that I liked it.* ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it were really exciting and fast paced and I enjoyed the mystery and the humor, but I really didn't like how the fight scenes were written and some of the Geology bits bothered me. ( )
  Linyarai | Feb 16, 2020 |
I am so disappointed in this book.

There was never a moment where someone told me it was going to be a masterpiece. In fact, all the reviews I’ve seen for Meddling Kids are three-stars. There’s a general “it’s fine, I guess, but not… good?” vibe to the reviews that I told myself I would keep in mind as I read.

And, yes, I did keep it in mind. But I was also still excited to read this book, despite myself, and now I’m just disappointed.

Meddling Kids has such a fun idea. It’s essentially the Scooby Doo gang all grown up. In some ways, Meddling Kids feels like it wanted to be a love story to teen detective genre with all the proper nods to Scooby and the Gang. I love movies that do this, creating a fun story with nods to enduring pop culture icons. If you’ve ever seen the old Scooby Doo, there are a lot of problematic moments, but the idea of a group of kids and their dog unmasking corrupt business owners, rich guys, and politicians is enduring and fun. I haven’t seen a book for teens or adults try to embrace this quirky tale and I was just delighted when he book was announced. How much fun will this be, am I right?

I was wrong.

Okay.

Issues with Meddling Kids.

First of all, I was done with this book at 38%. They got to the island, they unmasked the monster, and it felt like a full story. Even a mostly satisfying story. Then I checked my audiobook and saw it was 38% and I just couldn’t imagine how there was another 62% of story to go. So it dragged, and had weird pacing spikes, and from that moment forward felt a bit like the book that wouldn’t end. The overall story was fine. The twists were not that exciting or surprising, and really, I wasn’t satisfied at the end. I was far more satisfied with the containment of the story as a whole back at 38%. There are moments that should have been exciting but instead were filled with arguing and awkward interactions. I listened to the end, waiting for something more… but it didn’t come. They explored a mansion and a mine shaft and dissected a supernatural creature and somehow… none of that was as exciting as it should have been.

Next, the characters. I stopped early on trying to go, “Oh, that’s Daphne! That’s Fred.” The only character I’ve got down is Carrie, who was Velma with Daphne’s looks. The characters are forgettable, and in writing them, Edgar Cantero seemed to want to throw in ALL THE REP, but he doesn’t do it particularly well? I don’t know. It came off as very abrasive to me and I was turned off by his choices. He’s got Carrie, who breaks down into anxious sobs every time something happens until she remembers she’s smart and can pick herself back up. Nate, who institutionalized himself, makes repeated references to being crazy and the looney bin, etc. and so forth, to the point where the damaging language feels like repeated attacks on those who genuinely suffer poor mental heath. OH! And they pull out a straitjacket to help him escape. I’ve detailed all this my review of Splintered, but I have serious issues with poor representation of mental heath institutions. This book takes place in the early 90s, and the rep here is inexcusable.

But it’s Andy who bothers me the most.

Multiple characters, including her best friend, suggest that Andy should go through gender reassignment surgery because she is tomboyish and always wants to do what the boys do. The first time it happened, I was shocked. Then it happened again. In what world is that sort of assumption and verbal suggestion okay?! Additionally, Andy is a self-proclaimed lesbian and throughout the book she’s referred to as butch and various other blind, harmful stereotypes. She was in the army. She picks fights. She escaped from prison. There are two moments of acknowledgement of Andy’s gender (her chosen gender, not the ones that others in the book think she should have, because WTF) – at one point we learn the placement of her breasts; at another point, her used tampon materializes. So most of our interactions with Andy are spent trying to convince her to become male, and the rest discusses her sexuality. I’m not in either of these demographics, but I was so disgusted by the treatment that I just… I would recommend skipping this book for this treatment alone.

I tried to contain all that rage in one paragraph. It really bothered me.

The writing itself is a little weird. There was a lot of dialogue, and the story seemed to switch between a novel format and a script format. Tim, the dog, is treated like a character and the narrator is in his head, and that was fine, but also? Carrie’s hair was anthropomorphized and it was weird. Repeatedly it is given a personality and emotions and it was… it was weird for me. The story itself didn’t feel creative or original. The atmosphere – which should be important in a supernatural horror – is given lesser precedence than banter and emotions. There are whole scenes and elements that could have been cut to tighten the story. Problematic elements could have easily been cut. The writing style was chaotic enough that even if I didn’t have other problems with the novel, I don’t think I’d pick up another of Cantero’s books.

All in all, I can’t in good conscience recommend this book. The concept of a detective club all grown up was interesting, but the execution was unrealistic, the story attached was unimpressive, and the characters were disappointing. I’d like to see someone else take the idea of the Scooby Gang and bring their silhouettes to life as a quirky one-off – Meddling Kids did not fulfill hopes and expectations. ( )
  Morteana | Feb 9, 2020 |
TL;DR - transphobic, not recommended

In the summer of 1977 in Blyton Hills, Oregon, four thirteen-year-olds solved spooky mysteries - it was always an adult in a mask! Years later, in 1990, the former kid sleuths are not doing so hot. Andrea "Andy" Rodriguez (the tomboy) breaks out of prison and picks up Kerri (the brains) so they can break Nate (the dreamer) out of a mental health facility he's been locked in for having hallucinations of Peter (the handsome leader) who committed suicide a year earlier. Andy explains that nothing has been right with them since their final mystery in 1977, and they have to go back to the haunted mansion on top of a mine shaft in the middle of Sleepy Lake in Oregon. And this time the villain is definitely not just a normal adult in a mask.

The general idea of this book is very good, but the writing and the execution are awful. The close-third person narration is completely inconsistent, bouncing between characters within the same paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence. Randomly, the dialog is occasionally presented as lines from a script, complete with camera directions, for no discernible reason. I assume that this is meant to be clever, as are the heaping piles of references to disciplines that the author does not understand. These range from the very minor (two 26yos who barely know each other would not have an argument about Captain Planet within a few weeks of its TV premiere) to complete misrepresentations of mental health (Nate keeps admitting himself to an in-patient mental health facility just because he likes the slow pace of life there, and goes on and off his anti-hallucinogenic medication willy-nilly, with no side effects), sciences of all kinds (Kerri has a bachelors degree in biology and zero work experience, which qualifies her to perform a police autopsy, and she has studied insects but has never owned hiking boots), women and sexuality (Andy has been in love with Kerri since they were 13 and is constantly creepily ogling or touching her while they're supposed to be running for their lives or whatever. She ends up being in a relationship with Kerri at the end, despite the fact that Kerri says many times that she is not attracted to women and might not ever want to be physically intimate, and Andy says she's fine with that? What??).

All of that is small potatoes compared to the most egregious: this book is very transphobic. It starts at the beginning, with unnecessarily referring to a one-sentence background character only as "the H********dite" (a slur for intersex) and continues through the end where the villain turns out to be an immortal witch who changes their gender through surgery every 30-ish years so no one will realize they have been causing trouble since Salem. Gender reassignment surgery presented as a means to trick people for nefarious reasons. The author kind of tries to counterbalance by hinting that the main character, Andy, might be trans herself. However, the only vague evidence for this is 1) she wants to be called Andy, NOT Andrea; 2) she has short hair; 3) she gets mad at the idea that girls can't do things that boys can do; and 4) she is attracted to women. Mostly irrelevant and unconvincing.

There's little of value here to balance what is objectively offensive. Where was this author's editor??
Very much NOT recommended. ( )
  norabelle414 | Jan 27, 2020 |
Remember Scooby-Doo? There was Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy (and of course Scooby) and at the end of every episode the villain was unmasked and proved to be not a ghost, or a vampire, or a monster of any sort, but someone dressed up in a costume for one nefarious reason or another. But what would have happened if it really had been a monster all along ...

In 1977 the Blyton Summer Detective Club captured the Sleepy Lake monster - which of course proved to be a man in a monster costume. But now it's 1990 and the former teenage detectives are haunted by the memories of that summer. Nate is in a mental asylum, Andy has a criminal record and definite violence issues, and Kerri, once the brains of the group, goes from one dead-end bar job to the next drinking too much. And Peter has been dead for years, except that his suspected suicide doesn't stop him chatting to Nate at regular intervals. So exactly what did happen on the island in the middle of Sleepy Lake all those years before? The Ex-Detective club decide that the only way to lay their ghosts to rest is to return to the town of Blyton Hills and Sleepy Lake to retrace their steps from the summer of 77. Of course, their original companion Sean the Weimaraner is no longer with them, but they do have Sean's intrepid great grandson Tim to look after them.

This was quite a fun plot, but the writing wasn't as good as it could have been. ( )
  SandDune | Jan 16, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cantero, Edgarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collica, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garcia, KylaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huang, LindaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
March, JordiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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