Gordon Korman’s books are among the most popular novels for middle grade readers. Kids love them. His “Swindle” series is addictive, and his stand alone novels like “Restart” and “Slacker” are thoughtful and humorous at the same time. “War Stories,” his newest middle grade novel, is thoughtful, but necessarily less humorous; it delves into a much more serious topic — war.
Rating: 4 stars
“Slacker” by Gordon Korman is much like some of Korman’s other books. The main character is a kid who will be familiar to most of us — child or adult. Cameron (Cam) Boxer is, just like the eponymous title, a slacker. He doesn’t care about school, he doesn’t care about extracurricular activities, he just cares about playing video games.
His goal is to play in the Rule the World competition where the winner walks away with $10,000. His family’s furniture store is losing business because of the new mall outside of town, and the downtown is in trouble. To make matters worse, the ramp off the highway is slated to close, meaning that even fewer people would bother to go shopping in their town rather than going to mall with its immediate access from the highway.
But Cam has more immediate concerns. After an especially intense gaming session where his house almost burns down (because he didn’t turn off the oven), his parents grow concerned about the time that Cam spends in the basement on the computer. Cam, as the reader very quickly realizes, is hooked on playing games. He sneaks into the bathroom at school to play, and he plays every waking minute when he isn’t forced to do something else. His two best friends play with him, and his biggest frustration when playing is his arch-nemesis, Evil McKillPeople, who beats him at every single game. Every single one.