I greatly enjoyed The Labyrinth Society, and looked forward to reading middle grade fiction in Never Ending Bad Day. Reading this reminded me how much I loved this type of novel when I was younger! I think I read every Ruth Chew novel under my desk in fifth grade. (One of my students this summer, when he was receiving his contraband phone back at the end of the day, admitted that no one had ever caught him using his phone in class before. I wanted to tell him that he may well be a skilled novice, but I am the master.)
Fourteen-year-old Misty throws a coin in a gargoyle fountain, and wishes for the last day of summer vacation to never end, which is such a perfectly realistic wish, but naturally it goes as well as any wish from a literal-genie wish granter (Yeah, that’s a link to TV Tropes, I hope you weren’t planning on doing anything much for the next couple hours), and Misty gets stuck in an endless loop of August 12th.
First, she has a terrible day, but then she’s able to replay her very bad day, with some changes. Instead of getting a black eye from an errant ball at a baseball game, on the second day she neatly catches it. Or she decides NOT to eat herself sick on chocolate chip pancakes. (There’s quite a bit of, uh, bodily functions in this book. I wasn’t at all into that, although I admit that in my thirties, my idea of a terribly bad day is more “your position is being eliminated” and not “ate too much junk food”. Still, eew.) But then her do-over seems more and more like a curse, and Misty, with some help from her friend Stanley, has to figure out how to get back to her regular life.
Things I liked: Female protagonist. Female protagonist with a believable best friend and legit friendship. A young girl being brave. Friends solving a magical curse together. Evil gargoyle redemption. A cool glimpse into a magical world of witches and gargoyles, just below the surface in our own world. One throwaway line about how very many people in our world are just holograms going through the motions, but no one ever notices. I’d expected a juvenile fantasy to be a bit predictable (see previous re: loads of magical middle grades fiction), but found the actual breaking of the gargoyle curse was quite surprising.
The book opens with a short explanation of the author receiving an(other) enchanted quill which contains this story. It’s just a quick intro, but I might have enjoyed this brief glimpse at the Lady Jenniveive fantasy world just as much as the fantasy world built in Never Ending Bad Day.
Things I didn’t like: Bodily functions. Dialogue is clunky at times. (Stanley to Misty: “Our last day in Myrtle Beach until next year. By then we’ll be all freaked out because we’ll be full-blown teenagers with changing bodies we don’t understand—so we need to enjoy life while we’re still half-way kids.”)
I received a copy of Never Ending Bad Day from the publisher to review.