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Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen Kindle Edition
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|Length: 300 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||
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-Penny doesn't really grow in the story except as a leader.
-Penny's handful of inventions are not interesting.
-This story was pretty much all about Penny's classmates and them coming into their own powers.
-The very last few pages were good. As good as previous books.
-The climax event at the end was kind of lame and unexciting, but as a plot device it did deliver a good ending/resolution.
-Some good scenes with the Audit.
-Marcia and Cat's scenes/personality/pages were almost painful to read. Just terrible characters. (Not quite "Jar Jar" bad, but a lot of pages wasted on them for what is no clear reason.)
Almost all coming of age stories are best in the beginning. I suppose it's true here as well. I really liked book 1 & 2, even though many were disappointed in book 2. However, I found minimal enjoyment in this third book.
There are a couple major problems with the book.
1. Grammar and spelling mistakes are rampant. Whoever the editor is has done a poor job. There are many full sentences in this book that don't make any sense. This pulls me out of a book when I see blatant mistakes.
2. Continuing the theme of #1, there are whole paragraphs, and even pages of this book that don't properly set a scene, so getting engrossed in the story is difficult, as you can't visualize what is going on.
3. Moving right along from paragraphs and pages, the whole book seems unfocused and with no real plot for a large majority of this book. In the first two books, there was a clear and present antagonistic presence. There seems to be none in this book. I thought the second book was a departure from the first because the author didn't know where to take the story in a realistic way, after the first book became so popular. I have confirmed my suspicions, because the third book simply doesn't have a story. It seems clear to me that the author hasn't laid out a long term plan for the full story arc of Penny, and just seems to be trying to buy time by releasing books to keep his readership (somewhat) engaged in his world.
4. The "love story" arc is pathetic and dumb. The same recycled on-again, off-again stuff has been going on since the end of the first book and stretches throughout this entire book. It needs to be given a proper conclusion one way or the other, because it detracts from the rest of the story in its current form.
In any case, people reading my review probably wonder why I didn't give this 1 or 2 stars instead of 3. Ultimately, despite its flaws, I'm invested in the characters, and actually enjoyed this book. To explain what I mean, imagine you read the first two Harry Potter books, and then the first half of the Prisoner of Azkaban. You will sit and wonder to yourself why there seems to be no real payoff to the third book, but the characters and world were interesting, so you will continue to see where the story goes next.
The beginning of this book was rocky. The first several chapters didn't have that strong voice and sense of adventure that the first book did, though that eventually recovered and began to be fun again. There were also many editing mistakes, both in terms of line editing and deeper-level proofreading. Particularly confusing was the scene where Bull reunites with his family. I won't say much about it for sake of spoilers, but everything was fine until his wife flips a quarter onto his head and says goodnight? And then everyone burst into tears. I was thoroughly lost by that; I couldn't tell if it was even SUPPOSED to make sense from an outsider's perspective. Like, did she cast some kind of spell on him? Break an enchantment? Was it an inside joke from years prior? Whatever Mr. Roberts intended it to mean, it didn't make the jump from his head to the reader's. There were other examples of this kind of confusion, and at least one line that I absolutely couldn't make any sense of Unfortunately I wasn't taking notes so I can't say what or where they are. I recommend that he finds a new editor from now on, or perhaps gathers a group of core fans to be his dedicated test readers (I volunteer!).
I think I may have identified the key element that books two and three are missing from what the first had: a driving goal.
From the beginning, Penny and her friends wanted to be heroes. When one of her friends did something stupid and got into a fight with a hero, they got labeled as villains. The entire plot of the first book unfolds from there, with them attempting to change sides and continually making their reputation worse. Or better, in the eyes of the villains, who they become more involved with. But then Spider blackmailed them, coerced them into obeying her, and the tension rose. They attempt to thwart Spider's great heist and publicly switch sides to the heroes. Tension rises more, and the final campaign was a wonderful ride with stakes and motivation and the looming threat of failure. It _mattered_ if they won that battle or not, they couldn't just pack up and go home at any time.
I'd need to re-read the second book to be more detailed, but I feel like it was missing that driving motivation, that character yearning. What do they want out of this? Why do they have any stake in this fight?
The third book, like the second, doesn't have a defined goal or a specific desire for the heroes (er, "protagonists"). It also has that sense of a ship set sail on a grand adventure without a compass. At first this seems similar to his other story, Quite Contrary, which is largely just a collection of the main character's adventures through the lands of fairy tales, but the difference is that Quite Contrary _did_ have an overarching plot, it just took a back seat most of the time and only showed up at the beginning, any time in the middle when the scenery needed to change, and the end.
Which isn't to say that the adventure isn't fun. It _was_ fun. Even if it wasn't all it could or should be, I'll always be happy with more stories of the Inscrutable Machine. I gave a four stars for a reason, I do recommend it, but it isn't the perfect little darling that Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain was.